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  • Radar Revolution
    Posted by Bill Sweetman 12:21 PM on Jun 20, 2011

    In a milestone development, Raytheon announced today at the Paris show that it is using gallium nitride (GaN) technology as the basis of its bids for three new active electronically scanned array (AESA) competitions. The company says that GaN will be a major improvement over today's gallium arsenide (GaAs) technology and will eventually supersede it. It could also extend battery life in mobile phones.

    GaN technology has been known and under development for 15-plus years, but this is the first time that it is known to have been formally offered in a competition. Raytheon is proposing GaN for the USAF's 3-D Expeditionary Long Range Radar (3DELRR), a multi-role transportable surveillance radar, the Space Fence (a massive S-band radar intended to track space debris) and the Navy's Air & Missile Defense Radar (AMDR), a dual-band system for the Flight 3 Burke frigate. The competitions should all be decided by around 2015.

    Raytheon says that GaN has always offered high performance, but that company engineers have only recently solved reliability problems, with a design that mounts GaN on a silicon carbide substrate. GaN, according to Raytheon's president of integrated defense systems, Tom Kennedy, has five to ten times the power density of GaAs - providing more power from smaller arrays - better conductivity, easing cooling, higher gain, greater efficiency and lower noise.

    GaN radars will be better able to detect small - read stealthy - targets and will increase range by at least 50 per cent for a similarly sized antenna.

    Kennedy believes that Raytheon's work has given it a competitive edge, and notes that the three radars being offered run the gamut from long-wave S-band, through L-band to X-band, in the case of part of the dual-band AMDR. X-band GaN technology could replace GaAs in both new and existing fighter radars, he says, and its greater efficiency and performance could reduce power requirements in mobile consumer devices.

    Tags: ar99, pas11, raytheon, radar

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