From The Editor | October 1, 2018

Threading The Needle: In The Field, Precision Is Everything

By Ed Biller, Editorial Director

Threading The Needle: In The Field, Precision Is Everything

Note: This column serves as an introduction to the eighth edition of Electronic Military & Defense, which can be accessed here.

In this eighth edition of Electronic Military & Defense, we look at both the critical importance of military precision — in the literal sense — and a few of the technologies enabling warfighters to achieve the desired level of exactitude. In some cases, this involves the accuracy of the information upon which military unit leaders and commanders base their decisions. In other scenarios, precision is vital to spectrum management and is the difference between a successful, clear communication and a garbled mass of noise. Finally, applicable to nearly all field equipment, confidence in that gear is ensured only after it has been tested and verified as dependable, rugged, and, you guessed it: precise.

“Cost savings, operational success, and, at times, lives depend on military and defense equipment that adheres to the highest standards, functions reliably and accurately, and relays information clearly.”

Leading off, precision is a consideration before the first keystroke or scribble of a component’s or system’s design. Sherin S. Kamal of DataPath discusses how, absent open architecture and standards applied to multivendor systems, the military must resort to gateways, translators, and adapters to create something resembling interoperability — a must-read for any vendor seeking to be part of the Services’ modernization initiatives via DoD acquisition programs of record (p. 10).

Once a component or system is designed, it must be created. To that end, R. Jennifer Hwu and Larry P. Sadwick of InnoSys explore how microfabrication can enable both wider bandwidth and higher frequency operation in the rugged, high-power TWTs used in RF power amplifiers and power modules (p. 24).

Next, field equipment must be tested for ruggedness and accuracy. Darren McCarthy of Rohde & Schwarz notes that military electromagnetic compatibility standards — like MIL-STD-464C — have provisions for inter-system EMC, but guidance on susceptibility to commercial wireless technology is largely ignored. He then examines a methodology and technique for benchmarking some defense services, such as GPS and radar systems, with this pitfall in mind (p. 14). Additionally, a team of authors from LabSphere looks at the calibration of remote sensing platforms to ensure quantifiable results when using broadband, RGB, multispectral, or hyperspectral imaging (p. 20).

Finally, learn more about how advanced data display technologies — implementing high-resolution displays, touch screens, gesture support, biometric authentication, and voice recognition — aid warfighters in quickly understanding, and then acting upon, the information presented to them by systems working across a bevy of applications (p. 8).

“Military precision” is not an empty phrase. Cost savings, operational success, and, at times, lives depend on military and defense equipment that adheres to the highest standards, functions reliably and accurately, and relays information clearly. Products for this market demand more from designers in power efficiency, ruggedness, and portability, further complicating engineers’ work. We hope the insights contained herein help you in your mission to provide such technological masterpieces.

Thank you for reading.