Integrated Air and Missile Defense Systems for Harsh Environments
Mission-critical detection, launch, flight and precision targeting demand smaller, lighter, faster, reliable interconnects and systems
An integrated air and missile defense system that neutralizes any incoming threat is the backbone to securing and protecting most nations. Globalization, increased threat levels and technological advances are driving a wave of new technologies aimed at quicker response, pinpoint accuracy and deterrence of imminent attack. Smarter missiles and aerial defense systems create new demands on the electronics essential to ensuring that the mission is accomplished intelligently and effectively. This leads to the need for high bandwidth and more interconnections among the various subsystems. At the same time, designers continually aim to reduce SWaP (size, weight and power consumption) as they strive to pack more capabilities in less space. However, designers can’t compromise performance, durability and a system’s ability to withstand a harsh environment as they endeavor to reduce SWaP.
End-to-End Connectivity from Detection to Target
From detection, to response, to successful targeting and elimination of an incoming threat, modern air defense systems have ever-increasing demands. They must have smaller, lighter, faster, reliable interconnects, interfaces and systems to perform under the most extreme environmental conditions.
Better Information Coming and Going
Today’s weapon systems have tremendous power to collect and process data and identify threats in real time. These complex systems rely on a network of sensors, I/O connectors, switches, fiber optics, antennas and rugged embedded computing solutions to gather and process data into actionable information that’s displayed to weapons system operators in the form of text, video, warning lights or other indicators.
Radar systems provide the essential vision for missile defense systems and early warning systems. Fast, accurate sensors, an uninterrupted flow of data and high-speed processing are vital elements for real-time detection and tracking of incoming threats. As a countermeasure, radars can also be used for targeting and tracking outgoing missiles. In either case, when accuracy is critical and seconds count, any failure caused by weather, condensation, chemical contamination or other environmental threat is unacceptable.
Failure to Launch Is Not an Option
A launcher in a modern air defense system does more than deploy missiles. An effective launch system must be able to monitor the missile’s readiness, communicate with local and remote command and control networks, and ultimately launch the missile. A launch system is not as bandwidth hungry as other components of a missile defense system; however, reliability and easy use in connecting to the missile under a broad range of environmental conditions are critical.
Missile launchers include a variety of ground-, sea- or air-based options, including shoulder-fired units carried by a soldier in the middle of a sandstorm, vehicles mounting multiple missiles traveling over rough terrain, launch tubes on submarines deep below the ocean’s surface and weapons pods on aircraft in subzero temperatures. Each of these applications poses unique challenges related to the harsh environmental conditions in which the launcher is called upon to perform. Choosing the appropriate mix of MIL-STD-1760-compliant connectors, control box units, harnesses, interfaces and assemblies helps ensure a successful launch.
Advanced Sensors and Bandwidth for Precision Targeting
Precision control guidance systems provide various types of steering commands to keep missiles on course from launch to target. An accurate flight demands heavy-duty, real-time processing of sensor data from infrared and laser sensors, radars and GPS. The guidance system must also contend with such flight variables as phase of flight, type of interception, motion, heat detection, proximity and changing weather conditions.
As sensor technology becomes more sophisticated and systems incorporate a growing number of sensors, the amount and variety of collected data become increasingly complex. To collect and process this massive amount of data, computing networking technology is moving from Gigabit Ethernet to 10G while signal processing systems are being designed to pack more bandwidth into smaller packages. A weak or compromised high-speed I/O connector, hook-up wire or RF coax connection can disrupt the flow of information and alter the missile’s trajectory. Protecting so much critical processing power and data storage requires components that can withstand extreme changes in temperature, high shock, vibration, impact, radiation or chemical threats.
Mission-Critical Reliability from Takeoff to Target
Powering a missile is hot and hazardous. Propulsion systems for surface-to-air, cruise, intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles include rocket and jet engines, turbofans and ramjets. Multistage missiles rely on multiple engines and boosters, while some missile systems employ catapult systems or explosive charges for launch.
The propulsion system presents severe connectivity challenges. Connectors, relays and contacts, switches, wires and cables, and rugged fiber optics in the engine and within the engine bay must be able to withstand extreme temperatures (up to 350°C), potential exposure to harsh chemicals, and the high shock and vibration of an engine delivering thousands of pounds of thrust. Other components throughout the missile must also be designed to survive the harsh environmental conditions generated by ignition and propulsion.
Making It All Work Together Flawlessly
Seeker/guidance technology tracks the mission to target. Flight controls monitor airframe dynamics and adjust flight parameters. The control system interacts with every section of the missile.
The avionics, actuators, autopilot and other flight control systems perform the basic function of keeping the missile on track under a broad range of harsh environmental conditions. For example, the high-speed I/O connectors, relays, sensors, optical platforms and other components that constitute the control system must be well protected against electromagnetic interference, not only generated within the system but from external sources and countermeasures. Increasingly, controls are distributed throughout the missile to bring intelligence closer to the sensors and actuators. Reliable, high-speed communications between various subsystems is critical.
Advanced Connectivity for Reliable Performance
TE Connectivity helps designers develop integrated air and missile defense systems that are smarter, lighter, smaller and more reliable even under the most extreme environmental conditions. From connectors designed for quick and reliable release at launch to engine components with temperature ratings as high as 350°C, TE’s sensor and connectivity solutions make it possible to achieve and manage the high-speed processing and bandwidth that modern missile detection, tracking, launch, guidance and control systems demand.
- Each missile needs to work only once, but every missile and every missile defense system must be ready to perform flawlessly at a moment’s notice. End-to-end connectivity from detection to target is essential.
- Reliable and easily maintainable subsystems are critical to keeping integrated air and missile defense systems mission ready.
- Radar systems provide the essential vision for missile defense systems and effective countermeasures. Any failure caused by weather, condensation, chemical contamination or other environmental threat is unacceptable.
- Missile launchers include a variety of ground-, sea- or air-based options. Each option poses unique challenges related to the harsh environmental conditions in which the specific type of launcher is used.
- Modern precision control guidance systems are evolving to include more sophisticated sensors in greater quantities, which will require faster computing networking and data storage technology to keep pace. Weak or compromised connections can disrupt the flow of information and alter the missile’s trajectory.
- A rugged control system ensures that all of the various systems within a missile communicate with one another and work together under the most extreme conditions.
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