DARPA Hands Over Novel AESA Radar System to US Air Force Research Lab

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  • 09:43 AM, September 2, 2021
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DARPA Hands Over Novel AESA Radar System to US Air Force Research Lab
ACT-IV AESA system mounted on an automated test fixture in AFRL: DARPA image

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has transitioned to the US Air Force Research Laboratory its ACT-IV novel multifunction AESA system that can simultaneously perform radar, electronic warfare (EW), and communications functions.

The  first-of-its-kind sensor system developed under the Arrays at Commercial Timescales – Integration and Validation (ACT-IV) program has transitioned to the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for continued advancement.

Northrop Grumman, the primary research team on the ACT-IV program, facilitated the transition of the advanced digital active electronically scanned array (AESA) to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, a DARPA release said.

At the ACT-IV system’s core is an advanced semiconductor device – or common module – fabricated in commercial silicon that was originally developed by DARPA’s Arrays at Commercial Timescales (ACT) program.

Now concluded, the ACT program sought to shorten phased array design cycles and simplify the process of upgrading fielded capabilities. The ACT common module – a digitally-interconnected building block from which large systems can be formed – was developed as a more efficient alternative to substantial undertakings with traditional monolithic array systems.

DARPA Hands Over Novel AESA Radar System to US Air Force Research Lab
AESA radar. Image for reference

“With the ACT-IV program, we were able to realize the vision of ACT by developing an advanced sensor system with ACT common modules,” said Tom Rondeau, the program manager leading ACT-IV. “Transitioning the ACT-IV system to AFRL will enable continued exploration of digital, multifunctional RF technologies for defense needs.”

At the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the ACT-IV system will become a Department of Defense (DoD)-wide asset for testing and experimentation with new modes of radar, communications, sensing, and EW. The software, algorithms, and capabilities developed on the program will also transition to next-generation multifunction RF systems to support advanced defense development programs and a future open-architecture environment.

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