Phased array antennas have widely replaced mechanically scanning antennas in high performance radar and communication systems. By controlling 100s, 1,000s, or tens of 1,000s of radiating elements, each equipped with a transmit-and-receive (T/R) module, phased array antennas can achieve nano-seconds scan speed, higher resolution and accuracy, increased range, and higher overall system stability. Active electronically scanned array (AESA) is a common upgrade to its passive version of phased array and a significant improvement in terms of the efficiency and stability by installing MMIC amplifiers in each of its T/R modules.
A T/R module is a self contained unit with RF amplifiers and a phase/gain controller, driving a single or group of radiating elements. The performance of this unit will be determined by the following module design characteristics; operating frequency, instantaneous band width, peak power output, receiver noise figure, pulse rise/fall time, case operating temperature and others. Many of these characteristics are affected by the package design and material selection. The objectives of package design for T/R modules in phased array antennas can be summarized as follows:
- Maintain high RF signal fidelity
- Minimize RF signal power loss
- Increase mechanical reliability
- Maintain operational temperature under the limit
- Minimize overall cost
- Minimize size and weight
Kyocera America has been designing and manufacturing advanced T/R modules for over 20 years. Our module designs for phased array radar systems have evolved to an integrated approach which uses a monolithic ceramic body with brazed metal features. We have integrated the metal housing, feedthroughs, filters, and substrates together to eliminate the critical tuning process and reduce the cost of the module. The integrated packages have 3-dimensional routing with well-shielded shorter striplines and weigh much less. Integrating RF connectors to the package for the module-to-manifold interfaces can also drastically improve the system reliability by insuring robust and efficient signal interfaces. Our design team and program managers will work with you to create a manufacturable design that stays within your electrical loss budget and meets or exceeds your mechanical and thermal requirements.