Projects   /   Completed

S2211 — Digital Receiver and Exciter (DREX) Manufacturing Technology for Radars

PERIOD OF PERFORMANCE: August 2007 to July 2009


To take advantage of digital beam forming and distributed architectures in the next generation of radars, the need for a large quantity of low cost digital receiver and exciter (DREX) assemblies has become a driving requirement. The main aim of the DREX project was to develop fabrication and assembly processes to support the development of low cost DREX assemblies at the sub-array and element level in a distributed architecture for S and X-Band radar applications. A report on the current REX designs and new DREX definitions was produced early in the project, and a detailed survey report compiled on the multiple COTS/MOTS surface mount technology (SMT) components in a DREX X-Band down converter. A key aspect of this project is the application of established design for manufacturability (DFM) techniques to the DREX design, incorporating SMT design features, and packaging approach. In addition, a detailed packaging study was performed on the DREX assembly. The most consequential output of the project was the reliability test results of a test vehicle that contained the significant features and package types of the DREX design.


Receiver Exciter (REX) architectures utilize connectorized component packages with increased volume and weight and higher costs incurred for connectorized packages, cables, and manual assembly. With the development of DREX assemblies in this project, the cost, size, weight, and power (CSWAP) of the radar system was greatly reduced. The near-term goal was to reduce REX receiver hardware cost by more than 50%. This project examined ways of reducing CSWAP with SMT components on multilayer mixed substrate PWBs. MMIC based designs were also evaluated to even further reduce size and costs. The most important benefit of this project was the ability to support the multiple simultaneous missions requiring multiple waveforms, high dynamic range, and wide bandwidths seen in the continually changing and demanding world of radar processing.


The target platform for the DREX assemblies is the DDG 1000 X-Band REX. As part of this project, other target platforms were reviewed for potential additional implementation. A major goal of this project was to demonstrate the DREX X-Band down-converter module to achieve a TRL 4-5 rating. A follow-on project must occur for the DREX module developed under this project to directly replace the existing X-Band REX hardware. The follow-on work will update the hardware to the current REX form and fit. The DREX X-Band down-converter is intended for insertion onto the third ship of the DDG platform.

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