The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, N.J. awarded a $3 million contract to Colorado Engineering Inc. (CEI) last week to design, fabricate and test graphics processing units (GPUs) paired with a supporting processor infrastructure to upgrade radar aboard the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter Block 4.
The planned Block 4 upgrades to the F-35 – which have an ETA of 2023 – are expected to include adding a wide-area high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) mode to the Northrop Grumman APG-81 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. The so-called “Big SAR” capability on future versions of the F-35 should be able to produce high-definition radar imagery that covers a large area on the ground in one image to enhance the F-35’s reconnaissance and targeting capabilities.
General-purpose graphics processing (GPGPU) is becoming the cornerstone of digital signal processing in aerospace and defense applications like radar and sonar signal processing, image processing, hyperspectral sensor imaging, signals intelligence, electronic warfare, and persistent surveillance.
The U.S. Navy chose CEI for its radar signal processing expertise. CEI is also experienced in complex circuit board design for military, industrial, and commercial applications, and in the OpenCL software language often used to program GPGPU chips. CEI has established strategic industry partnerships with GPGPU designers NVIDIA and AMD, as well as high-performance general-purpose processor manufacturers Intel Corp. and Texas Instruments.
CEI is certified as a women’s business enterprise by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the nation’s largest third-party certifier of the businesses owned and operated by women in the U.S. CEI develops and produces hardware, software and system solution technologies. It was founded in 2003 with engineering and production facilities located in Colorado Springs, Colo.