NRL Demonstrates Advanced Multi-function Radio Frequency Concept Test-Bed

11/10/2004 - 50-04r
Contact: Public Affairs Office, (202) 767-2541

Researchers at the Naval Research Laboratory working closely with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) which inspired, promoted, and sponsored the program, have successfully demonstrated a new concept of integrating shipboard RF functions (radar, electronic warfare, and communications) by using a common set of broad-band apertures, signal and data processing, signal generation and display hardware. The new concept is expected to provide the Navy with increased shipboard RF capabilities that have the ability to accommodate future systems without the need for additional top-side antennas.

NRL's Mr. Gregory Tavik who serves as the Advanced Multi-function Radio Frequency Concept (AMRFC) Technical Director heads the research team. The team also includes key personnel from the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, the Naval Air Warfare Center, Patuxent River, MD, and several major contractors, including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon, who provided key hardware subsystems, and General Dynamics, who provided critical software support for the proof-of-concept program. The program's subsystems have been integrated into the test-bed, and concept test and evaluation is underway at NRL's Chesapeake Bay Detachment test facility in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland.

According to Mr. Tavik, "the modern Navy continues to require ever higher levels of functionality, performance and interoperability from its shipboard systems. Present shipboard radar, electronic warfare, and communication systems lack the level of integration sufficient to maximize the performance of each system while minimizing the difficulties associated with a ships' inherent electro-magnetic interference (EMI) environment. Additional topside antennas installed to accommodate the growth of these systems have caused a number of problems including antenna blockage, and interference between the various systems present. This program was created to investigate these issues and provide the opportunity to develop one general purpose antenna system that could simultaneously support multiple functions where functionality is defined by software."

The research team reports a number of potential pay-offs of the AMRFC Test-Bed program that include:

  • Reduced number of topside antennas resulting in a reduction of the ship radar cross-section and infrared (IR) signature.
  • Accommodation of future systems without the need for new apertures.
  • Tighter control over EMI/EMC issues through more intelligent and agile frequency management.
  • Incorporation of advanced software that significantly lowers upgrade costs and allows for the addition of new requirements with better inter-operability with existing systems to quickly address new requirements.
  • The potential to substantially reduce life cycle costs by reducing the number of unique spare parts.
  • Lower ship manning by reducing personnel required to operate and maintain equipment.
  • The ability to dynamically allocate and manage system assets in terms of frequency, transmit power, transmit and receive apertures, bandwidth and polarization timeline needs of the functions.

"The research team has successfully demonstrated the use of the developed AMRFC technologies to simultaneously support radar, electronic warfare and communications functionality in the 6-18 GHz band. Test scenarios were selected that demonstrated the ability to support multiple transmit and receive beams through the arrays, and the ability to reconfigure the test-bed assets to support the diverse requirements of peacetime and wartime environments," concluded Mr. Tavik.

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About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory provides the advanced scientific capabilities required to bolster our country's position of global naval leadership. The Laboratory, with a total complement of approximately 2,500 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 90 years and continues to advance research further than you can imagine. For more information, visit the NRL website or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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