KOR Electronics Develops a Low-Cost Electronic Warfare Simulator for the Military Services Using the NI PXI Platform
The electromagnetic spectrum is exploited for detection and surveillance of potential enemy forces, guidance and control of military aircraft and missiles, and general communications between military units.
"The combination of the small, modular instruments with precise synchronization capability made NI PXI a great solution."
- Tom Brenner,
Designing and deploying an electronic warfare simulator that has a modular, flexible, and expandable architecture using the latest commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies.
Using multiple PXI systems and arbitrary waveform generators precisely synchronized via T-Clock technology to coordinate pulse, frequency, and scan modulations to produce complex signals necessary to perform comprehensive functional testing of electronic military systems under a remote networked workstation.
Tom Brenner - KOR Electronics
Warfare in the Electromagnetic Spectrum
In recent decades, warfare has evolved beyond the physical arenas of land, sea, and air and into the electromagnetic spectrum. Military forces today use the electromagnetic spectrum for many strategic purposes. The medium is exploited for detection and surveillance of potential enemy forces, guidance and control of military aircraft and missiles, and general communications between military units. As such, electronic warfare equipment has gained wide and rigorous use in modern day military tactics.
While electronic warfare equipment is vital to a nation’s protective forces, it is often expensive and complex. Thus, simulators are frequently used to teach and validate the operation of military equipment without undergoing the costs that are inherent in the equipment’s actual operation. For example, it is certainly more economical to test electronic warfare equipment in a simulator than in an actual aircraft.
Electronic Warfare Simulator
KOR Electronics set out to design an electronic warfare simulator for military use. This simulator generates real-time dynamic radio frequency signals that duplicate the characteristics of real world, battlefield objects.
To simulate these objects, multiple time-varying RF pulses are generated. Previous systems have used custom hardware that offered very little flexibility for the customer to make system modifications.
However, modern day warfare is rapidly changing. Many changes are made to radars to achieve a competitive advantage, and with those changes come almost daily software and hardware updates.
Additionally, the life-cycle costs of custom hardware are a constant pain point for military organizations. Custom equipment maintenance is exceedingly difficult for the customer, and obsolescence of custom platforms has become a critical issue.
Lowering Life-Cycle Costs for the Military Services
To meet military requirements for lower life-cycle costs, KOR Electronics chose to implement its Electronic Warfare Simulator using COTS technology. When KOR Electronics engineers prepared their proposal, they investigated the National Instruments platform using modular instrumentation and PXI. The combination of the small, modular instruments with precise synchronization capability made this system a great solution.
Because PXI is based on standard PC technology, Microsoft Windows, and National Instruments high-level APIs (NI-FGEN and NI-Sync) to generate precisely synchronized waveforms, KOR was able to develop the software to simulate the signal environment much faster. KOR Electronics saved a lot of time and money by not having to design and debug custom hardware. To generate signals up to 18 GHz, KOR Electronics used standard upconverter technology from Elcom Technologies, which is controlled by NI PXI-5421 arbitrary waveform generators.
The new system is modular and expandable to meet dynamically changing needs, so customers can perform comprehensive functional testing of radar systems. The military services have been using these systems for several years now without any problems.
KOR Electronics provides unique solutions and services advancing customer capabilities in exploitation of the signals and digital RF domains.
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