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Aerospace, Military & Defence


Low loss, flexible, LSFH RF cabling is crucial to the future of defense


By Mathias Vetter, product manager at HUBER+SUHNER


A


s we head into an era where increased connectivity and higher bandwidths are not only demanded but expected, system engineers are under growing pressure to design systems that can keep up with the unprecedented demands of the defense industry, while remaining cost-effective.


Besides cost, one of the biggest challenges that system engineers have previously faced and will continue to face in the future is lack of space - particularly when it comes to military vehicles. With multiple systems being installed at once, a lot of cables are expected – but when space is restricted this can cause a troublesome issue for system engineers. Normally during installation bunches of cables would be created to feed through the system together. However, if the cable is not particularly flexible it can be a nightmare for installation. This, coupled with the fact that these particular cables are used in poorly ventilated areas such as aircraft, tanks and ships, means that system engineers need to consider a multitude of scenarios in order to future- proof communications systems. When looking at designing systems in the defense market, there are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration including the flexibility and attenuation of the cable and the latest trend of Low Smoke Free of Halogen (LSFH).


Less insertion loss + greater flexibility = cost-effective communications Low-loss Radio Frequency (RF) cables have become increasingly popular in the past decade as less signal is lost between the active components, making the communication system designs more economical. This is not only true for commercial mobile communication such as Long Term Evolution (LTE) or Wi-Fi, but also for tactical communications using High


Frequency (HF), Ultra High Frequency (UHF), Very High Frequency (VHF), like Command and Control (C4l) in defense. System engineers realised a long time ago that low-loss cables are essential when designing tactical communication systems. If low-loss cables are applied, then cheaper transmitters and receivers can be used as they lose less signal on interconnectivity. Although low-loss RF cables have a lot of advantages, they are less flexible because of the relatively thick centre conductor, at a given outer diameter. Whoever has experienced installations of low-loss RF cables knows that the process can be very challenging, especially in military vehicles, drones or in trains, where space is restricted. While the requirement of low-loss was


relatively easy to achieve and has advanced drastically over the last decade, it wasn’t as easy to make low-loss cables flexible. Although there are other flexible low-loss cables available on the market, they always have some draw backs such as return loss peaks, limitations of frequency spectrum and dissatisfactory electrical values.


Defense’s ever-evolving needs Low Smoke Free of Halogen (LSFH) is a relatively new trend in the aerospace and defense market but one that is proving key in order to future proof systems and solutions. Fumes from non- LSFH cables are acidic and corrosive and likely to damage sensitive electronics. LSFH cables considerably reduce the amount of toxic and corrosive gas emitted during combustion. During a


fire, LSFH cables emit a less optically dense smoke that releases at a lower rate, making exiting a space easier for occupants as well as increasing the safety of firefighting operations. This is particularly important in the defense industry as this type of material is typically used in poorly ventilated areas such as aircraft, tanks, submarines, and ships. For the moment, LSFH is not a requirement globally, it is decided more by the regional industry. There are several standards that describe the processes for measuring smoke output during combustion in defence applications such as EN 60754-2. In order to future proof solutions, system engineers need to look for solutions that encompass all three features of low-loss, flexibility and LSFH. The problem is that people don’t know to look for a cable like this as there has never been one – until now.


Future-proofing the defense industry, whatever it brings The efficiency and precision of military vehicles and tactile communications can be made or broken by the system that is in place. For the ultimate protection and maximum ease for the system engineer, the system in place needs to manage the increased connectivity and higher bandwidth required, without compromising on cost and ease of install. There are many solutions in the market


that are low-loss, fewer that are flexible also but only one that combines the key requirements of low-loss, greater flexibility, low attenuation, flame retardancy and low smoke free of halogen in one product. These are the solutions that system


engineers need to invest in. As technological innovation continues, the pressure of the defense industry is going to mount. Solutions that help system engineers do their jobs easily whilst future proofing the system are going to be crucial. HUBER+SUHNER has developed a new series of cables to address the challenges faced in the defense industry, comprising low-loss, the greatest flexibility, low attenuation, LSFH and flame retardancy all in one product – the Spuma RS FR. The insertion loss of the Spuma RS FR is better than any other comparable product available on the market. As a result of the stranded low-loss centre conductor, a patented Rotary Swaging (RS) technology from HUBER+SUHNER.


The innovative RS technology allows system engineers to overcome the common trade-off between flexibility and low attenuation that they usually face. Due to its state-of-the-art design, the best-in- class Spuma RS FR cable has been proven to improve overall system performance with at least 10 per cent lower interconnectivity loss compared with other flexible cables of with same dimension. The Spuma RS FR can be used with HF,


VHF, UHF, 3G, 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi and Radio communication. It is suitable for use in land, marine and air military vehicles, C4ISR, Mesh systems, Command and Control systems and tactile communications. The innovative product can also be used in connectivity for many radar and phased-array antenna applications, air navigation communication and satellite gateways.


hubersuhner.com/en


40 July-August 2019


Components in Electronics


www.cieonline.co.uk


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