BAE Systems awarded DARPA MFRF ARMS contract
BAE Systems has announced that it has been awarded a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract to develop the next generation Multi-Function Radio Frequency (MFRF) Advanced Rotary Wing Multifunction Sensor (ARMS) system for helicopter operations. The contract, announced 21 March 2012, is worth $34 million.
The MFRF ARMS system improves aircraft survivability in degraded visual environments (DVE) while enhancing platform lethality and minimizing size, weight, power and cost. BAE Systems said the system will help to solve the leading cause of helicopter-related casualties, and is designed to allow for safe take-off and landing in brownout or whiteout conditions.
Other advantages of the MFRF system include cable and obstacle avoidance, collision avoidance, terrain following/terrain avoidance, weather avoidance, landing zone assessment and ground mapping. The system’s multi-functionality also enables additional modes for lethality enhancements including targeting, weapons guidance and high bandwidth data communications.
A key component of the system is a highly-modular and scalable W-band Active Electronically Steered Array (AESA) constructed using only silicon semiconductors. The AESA design, which includes over 10,000 elements, is built from a silicon Transmit/Receive ‘Tile’ containing 16 elements and beamformer electronics in a single chip.
The result is a software-programmable, AESA-based radar/sensor that can be scaled up or down across a wide range of aperture sizes. A Software Developers Kit will be designed that allows system developers to rapidly define and program new radar modes into the sensor.
The ARMS program is a key element in an overall Integrated Threat Management System that provides rotary wing crews with real-time situational understanding of threats to the aircraft and its missions including terrain obstacles, other aircraft, cables and enemy munitions.
BAE Systems leads the research team for this programme which includes Mustang Technology Group, Honeywell Aerospace Defense & Space, Applied Signal Intelligence, Inc. and the University of Michigan.
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