Connector Development Direction

As new equipment enters the ocean, connectors are becoming more demanding.

Advanced communication technologies are the focus of naval system developers. As new equipment enters the ocean, connector manufacturers are required to provide easy-to-use, high-speed components to meet the unique specifications required for military environments.

Global advancement of ships and simplification of communications throughout the fleet creates a huge demand for electronic equipment for marine applications and interfaces with aircraft, drones, military personnel and land vehicles. Military application-specific connectors are at the heart of these new system infrastructures.

Rockwell Collins recently received a valuable order for an ARC-210 avionics radio and related equipment for US and foreign military aircraft. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division awarded Rockwell Collins a $370 million contract for the US Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Allied equipment.


A key element of the An/ARC-210 is the Ethernet input connector, and as the military moves toward network-centric warfare, Ethernet input becomes more and more important. The AN/ARC-210 radios range in frequency from 30 MHz to 512 MHz, covering the AM and FM UHF and VHF bands, as well as satellite communications and secure communications that provide embedded anti-jamming waveforms. The radio communicates over the MIL-STD-1553 data bus.

On the other hand, Boeing is developing a high-speed fiber-optic carrier network for the US Navy’s Ali Burke-class guided missile destroyer. An order valued at $15.9 million was issued earlier this year. The Naval Marine Systems Command commissioned Boeing’s defense, space, and security divisions to support shipboard and USQ-82(V) network systems.

These systems include data multiplex systems, fiber data multiplex systems, and Gigabit Ethernet data multiplex systems. They handle the input and output of destroyer mechanical control systems, damage control systems, steering control systems, Aegis combat systems, navigation displays, and internal communication alarms and indicators. New shipboard network equipment replaces miles of point-to-point cables, signal converters, junction boxes and switches.

Special connectors are helping the Navy design team transition to optical links. Reflective Photonics has just introduced a compact LightABLE LL 150 g full-duplex (12 +12) per-lane 12.5G b/s fiber optic transceiver for use in harsh environments. The VITA-based OpenVPX standard has a blind weight of less than 5g and consumes as low as 120 MW per lane.

The European military is also investing in communications systems. In October 2018, the French Navy announced that its more than 60 ships are now equipped with the Rifan 2 system to provide secure intranet communications.

The design team has a number of products to choose from that will help them improve communication and simplify the installation and maintenance of cable and connector systems. Many connector manufacturers are also working closely with military customers to accelerate the digital design process, including simulation and verification.

TE Connectivity has partnered with SnapEDA, a web-based board design library, to provide electronic designers with more than 25,000 digital models. Board-side designers often spend a few days creating component models; now with these resources, they can save a lot of time by using existing devices Cots). Connectors are particularly difficult to model because their shape, spacing, feet, and hole positions are non-standard. The ease of mounting TE components on a PCB saves engineers time and effort, and is beneficial to product optimization and innovation.

While much of the development work in the industry is geared toward new designs, the demand for products that are easier to update and maintain processes and naval equipment is high, and naval equipment often needs to be in service for years or even decades. The US Navy requires the electronics industry to help develop cable shielded ground wire adapter (CSGA) cabling based on the new maintenance concept and connector technology for surface ships. The Dahlgren Division of the Naval Surface Operations Center is looking for research and development partners that can provide reliable CSGA for cable and connector repair.

Device manufacturers and connector manufacturers are pushing more COTS technologies. These efforts are being addressed by Molex, which is developing a high-density VITA 67 backplane solution. Its 4 and 8 port configurations include the 26.5 GHz SMPM interface required for the High Performance Universal Performance Switching (VPX) platform.

Given the long-term life cycle of Navy’s products, backward compatibility is a core factor in new products. TE’s MulTIGig RT 2 connector is fully compliant with the rigorous VITA 72 ruggedness and reliability testing requirements while maintaining compatibility with the original rugged MulTIGig components. The contacts of the MulTIGigRT2-R connector have been redesigned so that each beam has two contact points that approximately double the contact patch area with the wafer. The new contact system also reduces bite force by 10% without sacrificing durability.

Fiber optic and high-speed technology updates shipboard communication systems require a large number of high-performance connectors specifically for military applications. The development prospects in this field are considerable.


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Post time: Mar-11-2019
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