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Compact Source for Focused and Tunable Narrowband Radio Frequency


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Air Platform, Electronics, Weapons, 

OBJECTIVE: Develop a compact source outputting a very high power burst of energy in a narrowband and tunable frequency region, which can be carried by a rotary wing aircraft in a small pod and can be utilized for such applications as directed energy high power microwave and electronic attack tactical jamming to disturb, deny, and damage. Perform spectrum agile high-power and short-interval transmissions to advance emerging electronic attack and directed energy weapons through benefits in size, weight, and power (SWaP). 

DESCRIPTION: Electronic dominance, specifically airborne, in radio frequency (RF) requires both high power transmissions and frequency agility while maintaining minimal size and weight. Typical approaches to spectrum dominance such as electronic warfare (EW) and high-power microwave (HPM) prove to require a large payload capacity but offer a myriad of frequencies and power levels. Jamming weapons such as pods under fixed wing and rotary aircraft also can perform with spectrum capabilities from 100 MHz to 18 GHz [Ref 1] at various duty cycles. Recent advances in HPM sources coupled with nonlinear transmission lines (NLTLs) have seen gigawatt-class peak radiators in a wide frequency spectrum with low duty cycle [Ref 2]. Use of gyromagnetic NLTLs for HPM generation from 500 MHz [Ref 3] to 5 GHz [Ref 4] is typical. Advances in solid state and traveling-wave tube (TWT) amplifiers have shown kilowatt class outputs in frequencies over 5GHz in compact sizes. The Navy seeks a middle ground solution between HPM and EW for the development of a high-power jammer able to provide prolonged saturation and preferably physical destruction of RF seeker electronics. Successful technology development should result in an extremely high-power and frequency-tunable jammer source, coupled to an antenna with directivity. Integration of this system must be designed into a pod carried fixed or rotary wing aircraft; pod parameters will be provided in Phase I. The prime power, or power input to the jamming system, will be limited by the pod and associated aircraft link power, such that, to meet the input power requirements of the source, some form of stored energy is required within the pod. The proposer should describe HPM and EW narrowband sources and associated antenna performance parameters in terms of frequency, bandwidth, effective radiated power (ERP), duty cycle/factor, efficiency, and directivity. The ERP objective goal is 10 MW with a threshold goal of 1 MW with a 20° beamwidth threshold goal, 5° objective goal. The duty-cycle objective goal is 20% with a threshold goal of 1%, with the understanding that energy storage is a requirement due to input power constraints, and effects on dwell time. The proposal must consider supplied input power negligible compared with on-state power demand, requiring all energy to be supplied from energy storage. The technology must operate in a tunable frequency span of 300 MHz to 1 GHz threshold, 30 MHz to 5 GHz objective while having a bandwidth at tuned frequency of 5% threshold, 1% objective. Pulse width of the jamming pulse will affect bandwidth. KEY PARAMETERS • Tunable Frequency: 300 MHz to 1 GHz / 30 MHz to 5 GHz (Threshold/Objective) • Bandwidth at tuned frequency: 5% / 1% (Threshold/Objective) • High power transmitter: 1 MW ERP / 10 MW ERP (Threshold/Objective) • Duty-cycle: 1% / 20% (Threshold/Objective) • Efficiency: 60% / 80% (Threshold/Objective) • Directivity: 20° beamwidth / 5° beamwidth (Threshold/Objective) 

PHASE I: Investigate the art of the possible for narrowband, very high power, RF tuning and delivery. Identify vulnerabilities in target system electronics for several candidate systems (communication, radar). Develop a conceptual design for a middle ground pod jamming solution between EW and HPM meeting the requirements in the Description. Include methodology and potential prototype performance that will demonstrate the proposed concept with the output pulse parameters as described. Conduct a sub-scale component demonstration. The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II. 

PHASE II: Develop detailed designs for a prototype system that improves performance parameters that meet Navy requirements as specified in the Description. Build a prototype system, according to this design, that meets threshold parameters at a minimum. At a Navy test facility demonstrate that the prototype delivers, or is scalable to deliver, the requisite power and RF spectrum to damage three candidate systems at tactically relevant and significant ranges as agreed upon by Government sponsor and proposer. Report performance results. 

PHASE III: Finalize development based upon Phase II outcome and transition to appropriate platforms and commercial industries. Advanced electronic attack and HPM techniques have been used for counter-improvised explosives and counter-unmanned aerial vehicles systems, which benefits the defense industry. Advanced NLTLs will enhance the telecommunication industry by easing requirements of amplifiers. 


1. Jennings, G. “USN Launches Next-Gen Jammer Low-Band Integration on Growler.” Jane's Defence Weekly, 31 May 2019.

KEYWORDS: Amplifier; Directed Energy; DE; Electronic Warfare; EW; High Power Jammer; High Power Radio Frequency; HPRF; High Power Microwave; HPM; Narrowband; NB; Next Generation Jammer; NGJ; Non-Linear Transmission Line; NLTL; Pulse Repetition Frequency; PRF; Radio Frequency; RF; Solid State; Traveling-Wave Tube (TWT) 

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