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30 June 2015
Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space leader in radar technology in Germany for 60 years

"Microwave Factory” at Airbus Ulm, to produce next generation radar modules under clean-room conditions
Summary

Anniversary of innovation in reconnaissance and intelligence

In the so-called “Microwave Factory” at Airbus Defence and Space GmbH in Ulm, next generation radar modules are produced under clean-room conditions. Photo: Airbus DS

For exactly 60 years now, the Airbus Defence and Space location in Ulm has been the “radar stronghold” in Germany and a centre for international radar technology. The anniversary celebrated now goes back to the time when the allies lifted the restrictions in place at that time following the Second World War: Following this decision, Telefunken opened their radar development and production facility in Ulm in 1955. Since then, the developers in Ulm have been involved in all the important radar projects in Germany, and later in multinational joint ventures as well, initially as part of AEG Telefunken, later as DASA and the successors of DASA. Their developments range from aircraft radar as well as naval and air defence radar systems to radar systems for satellites and air traffic control systems.

“Radar is more than ever indispensable for the safety of civil aircraft as well as for all-weather military operations,” said Thomas Müller, Head of the Electronics Business Line at Airbus Defence and Space. “We are systematically forging ahead with the development of radar technology on the basis of our many years of experience and can therefore ensure that Germany has an important core technology.”

Today’s development activities include structure integrated antennas which can be built into the outer skin of aircraft or drones, thus enabling all-round vision. Other aspects of radar development which will revolutionise the potential of reconnaissance and intelligence include multi-sensor data fusion and passive radar, which uses any emissions there may be for detection without betraying its position through its own emissions.

Innovation topics which Airbus Defence and Space has actually turned into current, market-ready products include multifunctional software-defined radar systems based on AESA technology. In this market segment, the company offers the TRS-4D naval radar system, which the F125 frigates of the German Navy and the Littoral Combat Ship of the US Navy will be equipped with. The so-called “Microwave Factory” at the Ulm location houses Europe’s largest automated production line for radio-frequency modules, thus providing the latest radar technology in the area of electronic beam control.

In the 1970s, the radar experts in Ulm had played a decisive part in furthering a major technological advancement, the transition from analogue to digital radar technology and the progression from tube transmitters to semiconductor transmitters.

At Airbus Defence and Space’s radar centre in Ulm, about 2,500 employees are working on the development and production of complex security electronics, in particular radars, electronic protection systems and digital radio systems. A large number of the employees are engineers, above all in the areas of communications engineering and electrical engineering.

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