Air Force researchers approach radar industry for ways to cut the size and costs of next-generation AESA technology

Posted by John Keller

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio, 4 Aug. 2013. U.S. Air Force researchers are asking industry to find ways to reduce cost, cycle time, part count, and touch labor of manufacturing advanced active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar systems for next-generation military aircraft.

RF sensor experts at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, this past week released a solicitation (BAA-RQKM-2013-0010) for the Affordable RF Multifunction Sensors (ARMS) program, which seeks to identify manufacturing challenges for AESA radar. The emphasis is on decreasing the program risk and increasing the manufacturing readiness level to 6, Air Force researchers say.

Next-generation aircraft must have improved situational awareness in integrated airspace, which requires AESA sensors with more bandwidth, capability, functionality, and higher performance than the current state-of-the-art in AESA radar, researchers explain.

Tomorrow's AESA radar sensors must be thin and lightweight, which forces the design to be even more integrated than it is today. These kinds of designs will be difficult and expensive, so Air Force researchers want to tackle some of the key manufacturing issues of AESA radar.

The ARMS program will have two phases. The first will last for 21 months and focuses on key manufacturing challenges and establishing new manufacturing processes to reduce costs. The second phase, which will last for 18 months, will improve these processes and continue driving down the costs of AESA radar.

Air Force researchers say they expect to award contracts to several companies for the ARMS program -- at least for the initial 21-month phase of the effort.

Companies interested in bidding should submit proposals no later than 12 Sept. 2013 to the Air Force's Cathie Stropki at 2310 8th St., Bldg. 167, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433. For questions or concerns contact Stropki by email at catherine.stropki@wpafb.af.mil, or by phone at 937-656-9003, catherine.stropki@wpafb.af.mil.

For technical questions email the Air Force's Michael Anderson at michael.anderson2@wpafb.af.mil.

More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/USAF/AFMC/AFRLWRS/BAA-RQKM-2013-0010/listing.html.

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