ROM – Radar engineers from the Tempest Fighter program have announced that they will break data processing records. The secret, they explain, is all about miniaturization and digitization.
The sixth generation jet, planned by the UK, Sweden and Italy and scheduled to enter service after 2030, will be equipped with new technologies, from weapons and propulsion to a virtual cockpit projected into the pilot’s helmet .
However, the group raised the bar in October by announcing that the hunter’s radar would process an amount of data every second equivalent to nine hours of high-definition video or the internet traffic of a medium-sized city.
Few details were given to support the claim, but now engineers from the UK have shared clues with Defense News with Italian company Leonardo working on the radar.
To increase performance, you need to rethink today’s electronically scanned radars with grids of small transceiver modules (TRMs) on the antenna, each producing a single radar beam that can follow different targets or combine with others to create a larger beam.
The TRMs in the array are grouped together, and the signals received from each group are fed to a receiver which digitizes the data before passing it on to the radar processor.
Because of their size, the receivers must be positioned away from the aircraft’s nose and pick up the incoming analog radar signal over coaxial cables, which results in data loss before the signal is digitized.
To remedy this, Leonardo is working to miniaturize the receivers so that they can be nasalized and integrated into the antenna, eliminating the need for coaxial cable. The data exiting the receiver has yet to be transmitted to the processor, but is now digital and can flow over fiber optic cables, reducing data loss.
“Miniaturized receivers can digitize the signal in the antenna much earlier in the reception chain,” said chief engineer Tim Bungey.
This is a step further than the new state-of-the-art European Common Radar System Mark 2 that BAE Systems and Leonardo signed for RAF Eurofighters, which will use coaxial cable.
“By digitizing the data closer to the array, more data can be received and sent, the data can be processed more flexibly and the radar can be used as a multi-function sensor, e.g. B. for data linking and electronic warfare. Said Bungey.
Miniaturized receivers have a second benefit: a lot more can be installed, which means that each one processes fewer TRMs.
“To improve performance and flexibility within the system, a key challenge is to divide the TRMs into more groups with fewer TRMs that are managed by more recipients,” said Bungey.
“This, together with the support of larger bandwidths, allows you to generate significantly more data, increasing the flexibility for beam control and multifunctional operation,” he added.
“We want to increase the number of groups of TRMs, and therefore the number of receivers, beyond what the MK2 radar can provide for Eurofighters,” he added.
While the radar could push the envelope, Duncan McCrory, Leonardo’s Tempest chief engineer, said it would be a mistake to think of it as a standalone component.
“The MRFS will be integrated with the broader Tempest mission system, which will include a full suite of electronic warfare and defense aids functionality, EO / IR aiming and situational awareness systems, and a comprehensive communications system.” he said.
“The data collected by these systems is combined to create a comprehensive picture of situational awareness for the crew,” he added.
“This information is also fused with data from other aircraft and unmanned systems, using machine learning to combine and process the entire picture of situational awareness for the crew. This avoids information overload in the cockpit, so the crew can quickly ingest data and make decisions based on properly processed and validated information, and react quickly to threats in highly competitive environments, ”he said.
McCrory added that Leonardo recently demonstrated aspects of the human-machine team in a process organized with the British Army and the Department of Defense’s Defense Science and Technology Laboratory, in which a Wildcat helicopter crew hired a semi-autonomous UAV provided by Callen-Lenz to deliver images collect and run it back to the cockpit display via a data connection.
“It’s these human-machine teaming principles that we’re going to build on for Tempest,” he said.
As development of Tempest progresses, McCrory said the design of the integrated mission system ran parallel to the design of the aircraft itself.
“We are effectively designing the aircraft from the inside out. By that, I mean we will work closely with the Department of Defense to understand future sensor, communication and effects capability requirements, and then work with Team Tempest partners to ensure the aircraft can accommodate and support the necessary avionics systems. “
Leonardo is working with BAE Systems to make sure the airframe can accommodate sensors, with Rolls Royce to make sure the systems are adequately powered and cooled, and with MBDA, McCrory said, “to get the best guns before takeoff available data and around keep them updated once they are released and get data back from them as they get closer to the target. “