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BAE Systems has been awarded a contract by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop next-generation mixed-signal electronics, potentially enabling new DoD applications, including high capacity, robust communications, radars and precision sensors, as well as leading to solutions that enhance situational awareness and survivability for military personnel.

Recognising that DoD has performance demands far exceeding commercial capabilities in terms of speed, fidelity, capacity and precision, DARPA created the Technologies for Mixed-mode Ultra Scaled Integrated Circuits (T-MUSIC) programme to enable disruptive RF mixed-mode technologies by developing high performance RF analogue electronics integrated with advanced digital electronics on the same wafer.

The next-generation capabilities that could emerge from this programme include a combination of wide spectral coverage, high resolution, large dynamic range and high information processing bandwidth. These capabilities, which can cut through the electronic signal clutter, provide mission critical leap-forward performance for applications that rely on electronic sensors in highly congested environments. These new developments could be integrated into EW, communications, precision munitions and ISR platforms.

"T-MUSIC will incorporate analogue and digital signals on a single chip for high-performance data converters and digital processing and intelligence," explained Chris Rappa, product line director for Radio Frequency, Electronic Warfare, and Advanced Electronics at BAE Systems' FAST Labs R&D team. "The advanced electronics we are developing under the T-MUSIC programme could create the foundation for greatly enhanced [DoD] capabilities in advanced RF sensors and high capacity communications."

As part of the $8 million (€7.3 million) contract, BAE Systems FAST Labs, working closely with programme foundries - will design and develop wafer-scale technology on a silicon foundry platform that can enable US-based production of next-generation DoD electronics.

The T-MUSIC contract adds to BAE Systems' advanced electronics portfolio and is based on many years of investment on various programmes with the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), US Army and DARPA, including DARPA’s CONverged Collaborative Elements for RF Task Operations (CONCERTO) and Radio Frequency Field Programmable Arrays (RF-FPGA) programmes.

Moore’s Law continues to apply to all aspects of information- and data-centric electronics, as research accelerates the availability and capability of ever more efficient components. (Photo: BAE Systems)

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