Low-Cost Solid-State Amplifier Can Better Power Space Surveillance
A new development in space surveillance radar has the potential to save millions in maintenance and equipment costs, while increasing reliability in missile defense systems.
With the support of AFWERX SBIR/STTR, Massachusetts-based Diversified Technologies has developed the next generation of radio frequency sources: a cost-effective, solid-state amplifier to power space surveillance radar.
This new system can increase the availability, affordability, and reliability of amplifier components in missile defense radar, as well as significantly cut costs over the lifetime of the systems.
Because of the success of this project, Diversified Technologies has seen $4 million in project follow-ons, and estimates a growth of $50 million over the course of ten years.
The solid-state amplifier may replace the legacy traveling wave tubes that are currently in circulation and powering space surveillance radar.
Traveling wave tubes are a class of vacuum electron devices which have noted disadvantages of a short operating life, high life-cycle costs, and high supply chain costs. Over the course of their use, they are unreliable and expensive, as well as out of date for the needs of the Air Force, having been originally developed in the 1940s.
The Air Force needed a more efficient, reliable amplifier to replace them, which would reduce the costs of replacement and have the same high yield of radio frequency amplification.
The solid-state amplifier design combines many low-power solid-state radio frequency amplifiers within a single cavity in order to increase efficiency and reduce costs. This method also reduces the likelihood of catastrophic failures, which makes a more reliable amplifier.
Diversified Technologies developed this project by improving on their own previous efforts and projects, in order to make the best possible end product.
The amplifier and other variants are currently being evaluated by the Department of Energy for fusion energy and science accelerator applications.
The AFWERX SBIR and AFRL funding and expertise were instrumental in the development and completion of the project.
The funding allowed the company to increase the operating frequency to its current state, and develop the technology into a low-cost and reproducible radio frequency module that met Air Force needs.
The AFWERX SBIR program invested $899,000 into the project, and anticipates a savings of $290 million dollars over a twenty year implementation of the project.
Download a PDF of this success story here.
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