REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Sept. 4, 2003 -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), which is developing the satellite communications payloads for the Department of Defense's Advanced Extremely High Frequency (EHF) program, has opened a multimillion-dollar facility to produce phased array antennas for the satellites.
Phased arrays direct radio frequency beams electronically rather than by moving reflectors mechanically. These steered, "agile" beams will significantly increase the coverage areas and permit the Advanced EHF system to deliver faster, highly secure communications to military users moving rapidly through the battlefield.
"This facility permits us, for the first time, to assemble and test phased arrays in one location. This reduces development time, reduces risk to delicate hardware, and ensures tight coordination between the assembly and test processes," said Clayton Kau, Northrop Grumman Space Technology vice president and manager of the Advanced EHF payload program.
"Phased arrays mark a significant evolution in satellite antennas, and tests for these will comprise the most complex antenna testing we've ever undertaken at Northrop Grumman. This state-of-the-art facility will let us deliver antennas that are verified and ready for payload integration and test."
The Advanced EHF system, with its use of EHF agile beams and nulling antennas that counter enemy jamming attempts, will deliver secure, high-speed voice and data communications to forces worldwide. Advanced EHF satellites and terminals will be backwardly compatible with those of the Milstar system, the existing highly secure system now in orbit. Advanced EHF satellites will provide 10 times greater total capacity and offer channel data rates six times higher than that of Milstar II communications satellites.
Northrop Grumman will deliver the Advanced EHF payloads to the system prime contractor, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Sunnyvale, Calif. Lockheed Martin is currently under contract to provide the first two Advanced EHF satellites and command control system.
Kau said that the phased array facility with its assembly stations and test chambers was completed in late spring. Assembly and test of the first engineering model phased arrays for the first Advanced EHF satellite has begun and will be completed later this year.
Cost and labor-saving features designed into the phased array facility include:
-- Implementation of Six Sigma project team results for assembly processes, including paperless work orders, and test/verification processes -- Common assembly and test fixtures that provide efficient processing of the units through assembly steps and into test chambers -- The ability to conduct both unit-level (the antenna by itself) and system-level (simulated on-orbit performance) tests in adjacent near-field and compact test ranges -- Fast receivers in the near-field ranges that enable single-scan measurements of multiple parameters, such as multiple beams operating at multiple frequencies
The MILSATCOM Program Office, located at the Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the contract manager and lead agency for the Advanced EHF program. The first Advanced EHF satellite is scheduled to launch in 2006.
Northrop Grumman Space Technology, headquartered in Redondo Beach, Calif., is a leading developer of military and civil space systems, satellite payloads and advanced technologies from high-power lasers to high-performance microelectronics.
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