I read the September issue of Microwaves & RF, especially the editorial on the importance of military applications to the high-frequency electronics industry ("Military Vital To RF Industry") and the News Report on how improvements in component performance are impacting the effectiveness of military electronic systems ("Component Refinements Advance Defense Systems"). I would like to make one small complaint about the latter story, and that was in the interruption of the story with the "Focus" supplement, which made reading the story somewhat inconvenient. But the content of the story covered a great deal of technical ground that should be of interest to RF and microwave engineers, including laser technology and advanced wireless communications such as software-defined radios.
Although it is clear that such limitations as insertion loss and phase variations from component to component have been greatly minimized in many of the passive components used in defense electronics systems, some components, such as fixed and variable-frequency oscillators, still fall short in terms of the stability and phase-noise requirements needed for many military systems, especially in more demanding environments such as in avionics applications. Although the news report cited some advances in performance in the area of single-loop frequency synthesizers and tunable YIG oscillators, both types of sources are nonetheless subject to problems from vibration-induced microphonics in critical applications, such as airborne communications and electronic-countermeasures (ECM) systems. I would like to see continuing coverage on advances in RF/microwave source performance throughout the year.
Finally, one additional complaint about the coverage: there was little about an important, emerging market closely related to military electronics, that being in Homeland Security. The threats from numerous terrorist groups continue to grow in sophistication as these groups learn to apply advanced technologies to achieve their horrible goals both here and abroad. Terrorism comes in many forms, and we may even one day be faced with terrorism from beyond the stars or beyond this particular universe (assuming that alternate-universe theory holds). The use of RF and microwave technology can be a tremendous asset in preventing the loss of lives to terrorism.
Dr. Alan Darcon
Configuration Analysis Management
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