Original Date: 05/01/2000
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Miniaturized High Power Amplifier Design and Manufacturing
In the past, Northrop Grumman Defensive Systems Division (DSD) created transmitter/amplifier assemblies by interconnecting separately packaged components into a large line replaceable unit or shop replaceable unit. These assemblies were quite large in size and volume, which often limited or prevented their use in tight volume applications. In addition, the assemblies typically encountered high voltage interconnect problems. To resolve this situation, the company pioneered a new process for designing and manufacturing miniaturized high power amplifiers that use microwave power modules (MPMs).
Northrop Grumman DSD’s MPM approach integrates a solid-state front end with a small, high-efficiency traveling wave tube (TWT) and a miniature integrated power conditioner into a common package. By using a smaller single case, the company reduced the number of high and low voltage interconnects. Additionally, the modular construction of MPMs decreases integration time and simplifies troubleshooting. The high degree of commonality between different MPM types results in the economies of scale for reduced cost and inventory, and a well- characterized material history.
The miniaturized high power amplifier design and manufacturing approach fosters innovative system architectures which were not feasible with the previous method. Since implementing the MPM approach, Northrop Grumman DSD achieved a 21% reduction in design cycle time; a 48% reduction in total hybrid labor; and a 62% reduction in manufacturing cycle time. All future electronic warfare systems will employ towed and/or remote located transmitters. The MPM approach will enable the company to provide very high degrees of miniaturization and performance.
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