The defense industry counts on dependable, durable RF systems for mission-critical military electronics applications such as intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) systems, SATCOM and communications systems, electronic warfare (EW), missile guidance, and more. These systems must be highly reliable and offer consistently high performance—in very demanding, confined, and variable environments on the ground, in the air, and at sea. These applications depend on continuous real-time data transmission with high accuracy, driving unique requirements for custom RF interconnect solutions.
Many of these systems are connected using MIL-DTL-17 coaxial cables, the base specification for military-approved coaxial cables. MIL-DTL-17 sets forth the parameters for cable materials and includes requirements for testing parameters, including mechanical, physical, and environmental testing. Cables and assemblies that are qualified to MIL-DTL-17 specifications are listed in the Qualified Products Database (QPD) by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA).
Specifying an appropriate coaxial cable for military applications requires simultaneous evaluation of electrical, mechanical, and environmental requirements. Typical challenges include:
As systems develop and improve, they require a wider range of frequencies and increased bandwidth. Systems that once operated at lower frequencies are now extending into the millimeter-wave (mmWave) frequency range of 30 GHz and beyond.
Fires are one of the most severe dangers in confined spaces such as military aircraft, tanks, ships, and submarines. If a fire occurs, the cables powering the RF systems must not give off toxic or optically dense gases. Low-smoke, zero-halogen cable assemblies are essential, especially in areas where densely packed cables are installed near humans or sensitive electronic equipment.
Military electronics systems are exposed to extreme and highly variable environmental conditions, such as corrosive salt spray in the ocean or high temperatures in the desert. RF signals must travel through coaxial cables at consistent speeds regardless of environmental factors.
Phase is a crucial parameter for detection and measurement in military RF systems such as radar, anti-missile defense, EW, and many others. As coaxial cables are subjected to temperature extremes, their phase characteristics change, adversely affecting system performance. Therefore, phase stability is important when selecting the right coaxial cables and connector solutions for military electronics applications.
At times, coaxial cables need to be efficiently and reliably terminated in the field. When required, we offer a complete line of MIL-DTL-17 qualified cables and connectors that can be assembled using a compact prep tool. By using our system of matching cables and connectors, installers can effortlessly terminate cables that meet many requirements, including temperature ratings of -40°C to 125°C, as well as IAW MIL-PRF-39012, MIL-STD-810, and MIL-STD-202 specifications.
Military RF systems must be hardy enough to withstand the rigors of a combat environment, delivering dependable performance and adhering to stringent safety requirements. For decades, the military industry has turned to Times Microwave to help solve the toughest RF challenges. We have deep experience building highly advanced, MIL-DTL-17-approved cabling and assembly products for every military branch. We currently maintain more than 160 QPL listings, including high-temperature, low-temperature, armored versions, and many more.
With unparalleled experience developing high-performance coaxial cables, connectors, and cable assemblies, we are ready to deliver next-generation solutions for the battlefields of today and the future.
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