DARPA helps ACT-IV transition AESA to next level

ACT-IV system
The image depicts the ACT-IV system mounted on an automated test fixture in the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Sensors Directorate Indoor Antenna Range.

On 31 August the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced that work on a first-of-its-kind sensor system developed under the Arrays at Commercial Timescales – Integration and Validation (ACT-IV) programme has transitioned to the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for ongoing development.

Northrop Grumman has fielded the primary research team on the ACT-IV programme behind the advanced digital active electronically scanned array (AESA).

According to DARPA, “ACT-IV is a novel multifunction AESA system that is capable of simultaneously performing different operations, such as radar, electronic warfare (EW), and communications functions, at different modes.”

At he system’s core is an advanced semiconductor device (common module) that was originally developed by DARPA’s Arrays at Commercial Timescales (ACT) programme. This programme looked to shorten phased array design cycles and simplify the process of upgrading fielded capabilities. In addition to the ACT module, the ACT-IV system employs a computational model capable of efficiently receiving and computing on the significant amounts of input data generated by each module.

“With the ACT-IV programme, we were able to realise the vision of ACT by developing an advanced sensor system with ACT common modules,” said Tom Rondeau, the programme manager leading ACT-IV. “The resulting system went through extensive testing and demonstrations to validate its capabilities, proving out a sixth-generation array with a scalable, customisable core that could work across varied application spaces. Transitioning the ACT-IV system to AFRL will enable continued exploration of digital, multifunctional RF technologies for defense needs.”

by Andrew Drwiega