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Timing is at the Heart of C5ISR

Rapidly evolving C5ISR requirements are becoming more stringent to address evolving adversary capabilities, driving tougher sync and timing specifications.


C5ISR – Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance –  is the systems, procedures and techniques used to collect and disseminate military information in support of operations and combat missions. C5ISR plays a critical role by providing real-time information – including to soldiers in the field making battlefield decisions in unpredictable and often threat environments.

C5ISR relies on highly reliable, real-time, secure (encrypted) and ruggedized technology solutions that operate continuously in extreme environments. Examples include tactical data communication platforms, satellite terminals and autonomous/non-autonomous platforms for air, land, sea and space missions.

Military requirements for C5ISR are rapidly evolving and becoming more stringent to address emerging adversary capabilities, driving tougher sync and timing specifications including:

· Improved frequency stability and low phase noise to enable increased communication bandwidth 

· Stringent temperature and vibration specs to accommodate challenging operational environments

· Continuous operation in Global Positioning System (GPS)-denied scenarios during extended mission durations

· Reduced Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) for highly portable applications

· Use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts, standardization and modularity to reduce cost and time to deploy

Let’s explore some precision timing and frequency sources that help to ensure the continuing operability and accuracy of critical C5ISR mission applications.

Signals Intelligence

Airborne intelligence gathering systems used to intercept electronic signals require a precise atomic oscillator, operating without GPS input and offering low dynamic phase noise and ruggedized packaging to perform in harsh environments.

Key requirements include frequency stability with low dynamic phase noise under harsh environmental conditions, temperature stability over wide operating ranges, and frequency accuracy and stability enabling extended (1 day +) operation without GPS.

Assured Position, Navigation and Timing (A-PNT)

A-PNT systems utilize multiple sensor inputs including from the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), precision atomic clocks and inertial measurement units to provide accurate and trusted PNT data while operating in contested and threat environments.

Key requirements include an oscillator with low SWaP, rugged design with minimal heat dissipation for compact board-mount designs and precise time within 1 μs of UTC for up to eight hours in a GPS-denied environment.

Undersea Reconnaissance

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) for intelligence, reconnaissance and mine countermeasures require an accurate onboard time reference such as a low SWaP atomic clock to timestamp data collection, support communications and navigate in the absence of GPS.

Requirements include a small size, weight and power oscillator to minimize battery/sensor costs, reduce space and increase mission duration, and frequency stability across wide temperature swings from the ocean surface to deep ocean depths.

VSAT Military Communications

Broadband Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) systems require precise frequencies generated by a low SWaP atomic clock to establish secure, encrypted, two-way broadband satellite communications for military personnel operating in hostile environments.

Following are critical requirements: an oscillator with low size, weight and power with rugged packaging and fast warm up to frequency after cold start, temperature stability over a wide operating range, and frequency accuracy and stability that enables extended (1 day +) operation while GPS denied.

Satellite Uplinks/Downlinks

High-bandwidth satellite communication instrumentation depends on extremely precise, ultra-low phase noise 10 MHz reference signals. Key operational requirements include a time reference that delivers ultra-low phase noise 10 MHz reference signals with ultra-low close-in phase noise at 1 Hz offset frequency, and multi-signal output and long-term stability with low levels of spurious noise.

C5ISR requirements are rapidly evolving and becoming more stringent to address emerging adversary capabilities, driving tougher sync and timing specifications.

Explore Microchip’s proven technology solutions for C5ISR applications. Visit Microchip/C5ISR – learn why proven timing technology solutions are at the heart of C5ISR.

Contact your Microchip representative to learn more about how our solutions enable C5ISR integrators to meet emerging sync and timing requirements.

Stewart Hampton, Jan 18, 2021