Customer Success Stories

Empowering Australian Radar Technology

"Altium Designer allows us to create high- frequency digital radar receivers and signal processors within budget and on time. With the ongoing development of high-frequency radar systems, we rely on Altium Designer to help us utilize the latest design techniques and technologies." 

Jeff Robinson
Principal Technical Officer
BAE Systems Australia

BAE Systems designs, manufactures, and supports military aircraft, surface ships, submarines, space systems, radar, avionics, electronic systems, guided weapons and a range of other defense products, many with international partners. Their key skills include engineering and systems integration; they’re also a leading supplier of electronic warfare, communications, military air support, software and support services to the Australian Defense Force.

As a world leader in the development of HF radar technology, BAE Systems turn to Altium Designer to create cutting-edge signal systems for Australia's unique Over The Horizon surveillance radar.

New Capabilities, New Challenges

Monitoring Australia’s enormous northern coastline is a key element in the country’s national security program, but the huge area involved creates the challenge of detecting objects beyond the horizon. The Australian Defense Force’s (ADF) Jindalee Over The Horizon Radar (OTHR) system, near Alice Springs in central Australia, overcomes the normal range limitations caused by the curvature of the earth by bouncing signals off the ionosphere using a series of antennas that stretch over 3.4 kilometers.

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BAE Systems Australia supports the ongoing development of the super-sensitive Jindalee radar with advanced receiver and signal processing systems that help to extend the capabilities of the ADF’s Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN). Creating these systems requires that BAE Systems remain at the forefront of HF radar technology, including the development of RF and high-speed data processing systems. OTHR is an extremely sensitive HF surveillance system that delivers the range and accuracy required to monitor and detect moving objects at extreme distances from Australia’s northern coastline. The technology and subsystems used in the OTHR are being continuously developed to enhance its capability for missile defense initiatives, aircraft and ship detection and tracking, plus more recently, illegal fishing activity.

BAE Systems’ engineers require advanced tools and design systems for the successful development of the OTHR subsystems. With typical HF projects requiring up to 10-layer FR4 boards that comply with strict performance goals in both the analog and digital domain, BAE trusts Altium to make challenging tasks easier.  

Their Advanced Digital HF Radar Receiver project presented even greater challenges, with a concept-to-completion time of just 6 months, involved the development of five multilayer boards featuring high-performance linear amplifiers and RF filters, highs-speed A/D converters plus Gigabyte Ethernet and USB2 I/O services.  

OTHR is even more intricate, featuring a complex mix of analog and high-speed digital signal processing technology combined with advanced filtering systems and switching. The circuit boards developed for the project contain a total of 860 components, 15,839 tracks, 117 fills and 99 polygons.  

With SMT devices on both sides of the boards along with the complex DC subsystems required to meet receiver performance goals, developing the high-density board designs required high levels of engineering expertise plus a powerful and comprehensively-featured PCB development system.

The Right Solution at the Right Time

Since its inception, the BAE Systems HF radar development group has used Altium Designer for board development. The resulting increase in features and performance of the design solution has kept BAE Systems’ engineers at the forefront of board design technology and given them the capabilities needed to develop the highly sophisticated board designs required to enhance the OTHR system.

As Jeff Robinson, Principal Technical Officer for BAE Systems Australia, elaborates, “Altium Designer allows us to create high-frequency digital radar receivers and signal processors within budget and on time. With the ongoing development of high-frequency radar systems, we rely on Altium Designer to help us utilize the latest design techniques and technologies.”

Altium Designer’s unified board-level design capabilities, such as powerful Signal Integrity analysis, differential pair support and automated FPGA pin optimization, has improved project time frames while ensuring that designs perform as expected early in the development cycle.

With Altium Designer, BAE Systems’ engineers successfully completed the complex Advanced Digital HF Radar Receiver on time, extending its capabilities; advanced features and high RF/ data performance were used to further enhance the OTHR system.