High Efficiency, Low Size Weight and Power (SWaP) Solid State Power Amplifiers (SSPAs) for Sensor Applications

Navy SBIR 21.2 - Topic N212-137
SSP - Strategic Systems Programs
Opens: May 19, 2021 - Closes: June 17, 2021 (12:00pm edt)

N212-137 TITLE: High Efficiency, Low Size Weight and Power (SWaP) Solid State Power Amplifiers (SSPAs) for Sensor Applications

RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): General Warfighting Requirements (GWR);Hypersonics

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace Environments;Sensors;Weapons

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 3.5 of the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Develop size-constrained solid-state power amplifier for future Navy radar applications that can operate in extreme environments.

DESCRIPTION: Radar (radio detection and ranging) imaging provides several advantages compared to optical imaging, including all-weather/day-or-night sensing capability. It often has lower resolution than optical techniques; however, the ability to coherently combine multiple samples across synthetic apertures can mitigate some resolution limitations. Additionally, the ranging aspect of radar allows information regarding the distance to objects in a scene as opposed to the simple detection of the objects. For the ranging to occur, a radar system must transmit energy toward a scene of interest and receive reflected energy from that scene. Radar sensitivity is subject to a number of factors including the size of the transmit and receive antennas, the range to the objects of interest, the amount of transmit power broadcast, the sensitivity of the receive electronics, the frequency of operation, (among other things) and is quantified in the radar range equation to first order.

The power amplifier for the transmitter can be improved to increase radar performance. Solid-state power amplifiers are increasing in their use in a variety of applications.Gallium Nitride (GaN) monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) technology has been instrumental in the adoption of solid-state power amplifiers for power ranges that previously were only addressable using vacuum electronics such as traveling wave tube amplifiers (TWTAs) [Ref 1-2].

The desired outcome of this work is to develop microwave electronics, specifically a prototype solid-state power amplifier radar transmitter that is capable of operation across a variety of possible radar applications of interest to the U.S. Navy. These include intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, weather sensing, search and tracking of objects, and fire control.

Broad performance objectives include:

  • Frequency of Operation: approximately 15 GHz to 18 GHz
  • RF Saturated Output Power: > 200 W
  • Saturated Gain: > 50dB
  • Duty Factor: Up to ~35% (but variable)
  • Pulse Widths: 1 µs to 300 µs
  • Power Added Efficiency: > 30% (at Psat)
  • Mechanical Shock: > 1,000 G (relatively few events)
  • Size: < 75 in3
  • Mass: < 8 lbs
  • Cooling Method: Conduction

Better performance than requested in any or all of the areas listed above may simplify system trades, enable additional capability or open new opportunities for the developed amplifier. As such, improved functionality is welcome and desired. The winning proposed effort may require a MMIC development effort to achieve the desired efficiency over the frequency range of operation, and strong microelectronics packaging expertise to achieve the objective integration density and maintain the efficiency provided by highly-efficient MMIC amplifiers when multiple amplifiers are combined.

The Phase I effort will not require access to classified information. If need be, data of the same level of complexity as secured data will be provided to support Phase I work. The Phase II effort may require secure access, if so SSP will process the DD254 to support the contractor for personnel and facility certification for secure access.

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. owned and operated with no foreign influence as defined by DoD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency (DCSA). The selected contractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this project as set forth by DCSA and SSP in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advanced phases of this contract.

PHASE I: Conduct a feasibility study and initial design effort to provide anticipated performance for the subject power amplifier parameters detailed in the Description. Develop and communicate plans for producing an amplifier prototype in Phase II, including engaging any potential vendors, partners or suppliers the small business contractor may require to complete the anticipated work. The Phase I Option effort, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.

PHASE II: Produce and demonstrate through testing a prototype power amplifier capable of meeting the performance goals of the effort. The results should be correlated to current state-of-the-art capabilities. Provide a plan for application-specific qualification testing. Prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology for Navy use and potential commercial use.

It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified under Phase II (see Description section for details).

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Work with the Navy to transition the amplifier technology to the target program. High-efficiency power amplifiers with wide frequency bandwidth may enable multiple simultaneous missions from a single antenna aperture, when paired with flexible exciters, including software-defined radios. Such multi-mission power amplifiers may have more widespread Government use and address defense industries with specific interest in radar applications in extreme environments, such as SLBMs, ICBMs and future commercial hypersonic vehicle developers.


  1. Song, Kaijun; Zhang, Fan; Hu, Shunyong; and Fan, Yizhi. "Ku-band 200-W pulsed power amplifier based on waveguide spatially power-combining technique for industrial applications." IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics 61, 8, 1 August 2014, pp. 4274-4280. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260521677_Ku-band_200-W_Pulsed_Power_Amplifier_Based_on_Waveguide_Spatially_Power-Combining_Technique_for_Industrial_Applications.
  2. Feurerschutz, Philip; Rave, Christian; Samis, Stanislav; and Friesicke, Christian. "Active Multi-Feed SATCOM Systems with GaN SSPA at K-band." German Microwave Conference (GeMiC), 1 March 2016. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301800436_Active_multi-feed_satcom_systems_with_GaN_SSPA_at_K-band.

KEYWORDS: Conventional Prompt Strike; Radar; Solid State Power Amplifier; GaN MMIC; Microwave Electronics; Microelectronics; Transmitters; Microwave Power Modules; monolithic microwave integrated circuit


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 21.2 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at rt.cto.mil/rtl-small-business-resources/sbir-sttr/ for any updates.

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