Intelligent defence


Michelle Winny, Editor of Electronics visits the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) 2013 exhibition to find out about the latest in defence component technology and how the electronics industry is currently serving the critical demands of Mil/Aero applications

A single electronic component seems pretty innocuous on its own but put the right combination together and you could be looking at a lethal killing machine capable of mass destruction; or on the other side of the scale and more hopefully, serving to protect and defend. Of late, the reality of deployment in theatres of war such as Afghanistan and other areas of conflict have placed significant demands on technology companies and their capabilities to provide ‘the right’ solutions for these challenging applications.

Technological advancements have seen electronic components built into nearly every weapons system and piece of equipment. Whilst shrinking device geometries have enabled ever smaller and more integrateable electronics, finding their way onto infantry uniforms, into field equipment and armory vehicles. Examples of some of the latest in component technology being developed for these applications were showcased at the recent Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) 2013 exhibition in London. Solutions included a range of Mil/aero ‘D-Sub’ connectors and socket kits launched by component distributor, TTI. This range of connectors is the M24308, which are suited to military applications.  

The company has also recently made a significant increase to the size and scale of its European connector assembly service. The facility, at its European Distribution Centre near Munich is now twice the size and is capable of producing seven different connector styles and their many variants. The distributor has also recently expanded the product range it offers and can now also assemble connectors from Amphenol and Souriau. Continuing the offering of specialised connectors for Mil/Aero applications, Amphenol announced that its Black Zinc Nickel connector plating finish is now qualified to MIL-DTL-38999 Series III Class-Z. This is an RoHS compliant conductive and non-reflective black finish that is approved for 500 hours of salt spray endurance.

ITT Corporation showcased the latest customised connector, vibration isolation and shock absorber products from its Cannon, Enidine and KONI brands. Cannon’s Nemesis is a new series of connectors that have a smaller form factors and enhanced sealing technology, that offer maximum connectivity, durability and reliability. As a result this makes the devices well-suited for soldier-wearable and unmanned vehicle applications. Frequency control specialist, Euroquartz showcased its range of high reliability crystal and oscillator products. The company also supplies markets where high reliability components are essential. These include crystals and oscillators for electronic systems used in satellites, civil and military aircraft and a broad range of ‘defence related’ equipment.

The company’s EQXO-2000BM range of oscillators offers full MIL screening when required and provides frequencies from 30kHz to 70MHz with frequency stability of ±100ppm or ±50ppm over the full military temperature range. Gaia Converter, a manufacturer of modular power components, released a new family of configurable integrated power supplies. The company’s GPACK device is able to deliver up to 800W without a fan in 24 – 28 VDC avionic, aerospace, military and missile applications. Diamond Microwave, a specialist in high performance microwave power amplifiers, announced the launch of ultra-compact high power solid state power amplifiers in the X-Band and Ku-Band, which are ideal for defence, aerospace and communications applications. The company advises, these solid-state power amplifiers are based on GaN devices, and offer state-of-the-art pulsed power performance coupled with a power-to-volume ratio. The designs are flexible in layout and architecture, and are fully customisable to meet individual specifications for electrical, mechanical and environmental parameters. Amplifiers with pulsed power outputs in excess of 1kW, and with multi-octave bandwidths, are also under development.

Link Microtek demonstrated its recently enhanced Azdec infra-red mobile communications system with the introduction of a new battle-helmet headset that offers active noise reduction. This headset is designed to ensure clear audio communication is maintained, offering secure short-range voice communication using infra-red signals. Linear Technology launched its LTM4624, a 14V, 4A step-down µModule (micromodule) regulator. This device includes the DC/DC controller, power switches, inductor and compensation in a single package. Only two external ceramic capacitors (1206 case size) and a resistor (0603 or smaller case size) are required for operation. The device operates from a 4V to 14V input supply, delivering a regulated output adjustable between 0.6V to 5.5V.  

Above all, electronics provide capabilities that are critical to defence requirements and the effectiveness and severity of weapons systems are increasingly dependent upon the electronics subsystems they employ. To ensure proper equipment that can handle the demands of the Mil/Aero and defence industry a high performance and innovative industry is essential. The UK electronic component industry is proving its capabilities in these fields, delivering high-tech ¬performance and in many cases providing the soldiers with the tools needed to fulfill their duties. As with many other applications, it is also all about partnerships and finding the right company with the right solution to handle the highly sensitive and demanding nature of the industry.