Today’s electromagnetic (EM) systems use antenna arrays to provide unique capabilities, such as multiple beam forming and electronic steering, which are important for a wide variety of applications such as communications, signal intelligence (SIGINT), radar, and electronic warfare. However, wider use of arrays has been limited by lengthy system development times and the inability to upgrade already- fielded capabilities—problems exacerbated by the fact that military electronics have evolved at a slower cadence than in the commercial sector. In particular, the performance gap is widening between the radio frequency (RF) capabilities of fielded military systems and the continuously improving digital electronics surrounding those systems. The Arrays at Commercial Timescales (ACT) aims to shorten design cycles and in-field updates and push past the traditional barriers that lead to 10-year array development cycles, 20- to 30-year static life cycles and costly service-life extension programs.
Specifically, as an alternative to large undertakings focused on traditional monolithic array systems, ACT seeks to develop a digitally-interconnected building block from which larger systems can be formed. The desired building block, composed of a common module and a reconfigurable EM interface, would be scalable and customizable for each application, without requiring a full redesign for each application space.
The ACT program has two thrusts, each focused on a specific enabling technology for rapidly upgradable and widely deployable array architectures:
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