Around the world and in the U.S., intensifying security threats are being met with increased military spending on new and improved technologies designed to help establish and maintain peace. Radar systems play a critical role in this effort by enhancing threat detection and mitigation capabilities, and strengthening communication networks across land, sea, air and space.
But the strong need to invest in scalable radar technology is counterbalanced by an equally strong need to reduce strains on the defense budget. This is where the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Better Buying Power (BBP) initiative comes into play.
What is the Better Buying Power Initiative?
Launched in 2010 and now in its third iteration, BBP 3.0 is a mandate for aerospace and defense (A&D) contractors and the surrounding ecosystem to “do more without more.” The initiative is specifically designed to help the DoD achieve greater efficiency and productivity in its defense spending, enabling more rapid development and acquisition of high-performance defense systems at reduced costs.
This is achievable in part by leveraging best practices established in the commercial sector. Utilizing integrated RF components, commercial packaging techniques and volume-scale manufacturing processes, a cost-effective military radar system may one day be assembled with the same ease and efficiency as a wireless base station. We’re not quite there yet, but this is where we’re headed.
Reducing the Cost of Active Antenna Arrays
As a decades-long partner to the A&D industry, MACOM welcomes the challenge and responsibility of BBP 3.0. Working in close collaboration with leading A&D contractors like Northrop Grumman and world-class research organizations like MIT Lincoln Laboratory, we’re pushing the boundaries of next generation radar technology while simultaneously lowering the associated cost structures.
The emergence of Active Electronically Scanned Arrays (AESAs) – or Active Antenna Arrays – has enabled significant gains in radar performance in recent years, and we’ve taken this technology a big step forward with the introduction of a new tile array radar architecture, embodied by the Scalable Planar Array (SPAR™) Tile.
MIT Lincoln Laboratory has confirmed that this tile array architecture demonstrates a greater than 5X reduction in the cost of active array front ends compared to the legacy brick array architecture introduced some 25 years ago. This is attributable in part to the commercial manufacturing efficiency and high-performance, surface mount RF components that MACOM brings with its SPAR Tile initiative.
Achieving the Promise of BBP 3.0
Tile-based implementations of AESA technology set a strong foundation for a new generation of high-precision, agile radar systems that can be built quickly and cost effectively, and flexibly tailored and scaled for rapid deployment across the modern battlefield. This new technology exemplifies the full promise of the BBP 3.0 initiative, and ensures that our armed forces are equipped with superior radar technology that helps maintain the safety and security of our soldiers and civilians.
For more information on our collaboration with Northrop Grumman, click here, and for more information on our SPAR Tile initiative with MIT Lincoln Laboratory, click here. For an in-depth read on the advantages of the tile array architecture for next generation radar infrastructure, don’t miss our new article in Microwave Journal.