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SPECIAL REPORT

Military Connector Technology Secure Solutions for Soldiers Connectors and Connectivity in Counter Insurgency There’s Specification, Specification and Specification and Regulation! Connecting to Moore’s Law and the Future Connecting to Soldier Modernisation Programs

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Reliability under even the harshest conditions! ODU AMC – Advanced Military Connectors: The next connector generation for the soldier of the future – you can count on it.

*

– Push-Pull or Break-Away function – Excellent 360° shielding properties – More than 5,000 mating cycles – Easy-to-clean version available *

– Operating temperature from –55° C to +125° C (–65° F to + 255° F) – Watertight (IP 68) – Individual contact configurations available

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SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY CONNECTOR TECHNOLOGY

SPECIAL REPORT

Military Connector Technology Secure Solutions for Soldiers

Contents

Connectors and Connectivity in Counter Insurgency There’s Specification, Specification and Specification and Regulation! Connecting to Moore’s Law and the Future Connecting to Soldier Modernisation Programs

Foreword

2

Mary Dub, Editor

Secure Solutions for Soldiers

3

ODU Steckverbindungssysteme GmbH & Co. KG / Otto Dunkel GmbH

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media

ODU MINI-SNAP – Super Shorty ODU AMC – Advanced Military Connector Customer-Specific Developments – the Right Solution

Published by Global Business Media

Connectors and Connectivity in Counter Insurgency

Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom

Marushka Dubova, Defence Correspondent

Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: info@globalbusinessmedia.org Website: www.globalbusinessmedia.org Publisher Kevin Bell Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks

Why are Connectors so Important? Western European Army Needs A Strong Growing World Market

There’s Specification, Specification and Specification and Regulation! What Makes the Military Market so Special? EU ATEX Directives

Senior Project Manager Steve Banks

Connecting to Moore’s Law and the Future

Production Manager Paul Davies For further information visit: www.globalbusinessmedia.org The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles.

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Meredith LLewelyn, Lead Contributor

Editor Mary Dub

Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes

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10

Don McBarnet, Staff Writer

Working Around Roadblocks to Enhanced Capabilities for Connectors Global Strategic Supply The New Apple iPad Challenge

Connecting to Soldier Modernisation Programs

12

Marushka Dubova, Defence Correspondent

The Role of Major Defence Contractors in Working with Soldier Modernization Programs

References

13

© 2011. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 1


SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY CONNECTOR TECHNOLOGY

Foreword

T

he military market for connectors in 2007-8 was $3billion and growing at 6.5% according to Bishop Associates. It is therefore easy to underestimate the diversity

and vigour of the market place for these essential products. This edition looks at the pivotal role they play in connectivity and establishing the digital data flows which have become an essential tool of military decision-making. In the heat of the moment and under fire the ruggedness of the connection to the critical intelligence about the presence of insurgents or IEDS is vital. The Report opens by looking at the advances that have been made in the development of small, light, yet robust connectors necessary in various soldier modernisation programs, and how these are available either in standard form or can be made to users’ specific requirements. It goes on to describe a number of different connector products and their uses, as well as various special features including ‘Push-Pull’ locking and ‘Easy-Clean’ versions that avoid damage by dust, dirt and mud. The next piece describes how military connectors have become an integral component delivering Network Enabled Capability or Network Centric Warfare between the combat soldier and headquarters. The third section deals with the issue of costly counterfeit and shoddy goods, and how ministries of defence and contractors have bedeviled OEMs with regulations, documentation and specifications. The reasons behind these limitations are altruistic: human safety, environmental concerns, and interoperability, nevertheless they are a complicating fact of life with which the industry has to deal with greater frequency than it would wish. Moore’s Law and the imperative drive towards minituarisation, speed and lightness of weight, which is forcing the leading edge of the connector industry to redesign its products to surpass limits that were thought to be insuperable 10 years ago, is covered in the fourth part of the Report. New materials, such as carbon nanotubes are coming into use, because they have the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any known material. For prime contractors using military connectors to meet suppliers’ needs, this is an interesting and vibrant marketplace. The final section of the Report looks at the role of major defence contractors in tailoring their technologies and products to integrate with soldier modernization programs. To this end, the development of lighter, less bulky connectors is a vital element in efforts to enhance soldiers’ interoperability. Mary Dub Editor Mary Dub has covered the defence field in the United States and the UK as a television broadcaster, journalist and conference manager. Focused by a Masters in War Studies from King’s College, London, she annotates and highlights the interplay of armies, governments and industry.

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SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY CONNECTOR TECHNOLOGY

Secure Solutions for Soldiers ODU Steckverbindungssysteme GmbH & Co. KG / Otto Dunkel GmbH

All systems used by infantry soldiers in the field must function 100% and the soldiers must be able to count on this. This is why it is especially important that all components used, from the connector to the cable to the complete information systems, satisfy the highest quality standards.

for innovation and safety in defence and military technology

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LOBALLY, THERE are some one hundred thousand connectors in use in the military and security engineering sector, and while all have their advantages, they are not all suitable for all the requirements that will have to be met in this area in the future. Equipment manufacturers must build smaller and lighter, and this naturally means compact and light connectors. The right information at the right place and the right time can mean the difference between life and death. As a rule, connectors are responsible for transmitting this information, which is why no compromises should be accepted in their quality. Small, light and rugged – this could be a short requirement specification for the connection systems needed for the various “Soldier Modernisation” programs. As in many other branches, this area is creating a great challenge for connector manufacturers, because even these compact connectors must ensure reliable power transmission and EMC protection and satisfy many additional requirements. Thanks to its many years of know-how in military technology, ODU offers several ingenious solutions for “Soldier Modernisation” programs. Customers have access to standard solutions as well as to customer-specific developments. ODU offers the connection systems that fit the specifications and applications.

Your partner and system supplier

ODU supplies a range of advanced military connectors for all types of soldier modernization programs

ODU MINI-SNAP – Super Shorty An extremely short connector from the ODU MINI-SNAP Push-Pull series is the “Super Shorty” connector. This is a new connector which is up to 20% shorter than a standard connector and, consequently, also lighter. The Super Shorty is currently available in size 0 (with an outside diameter of 9.4 mm) and size 1 (with an outside diameter of 12 mm). Contact arrangements with up to 14 positions are available as standard. The connectors have a black and matt chrome surface that makes them ideal for military use. The customer has two versions in two series

ODU MINI-SNAP Super Shorty

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SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY CONNECTOR TECHNOLOGY

Globally, there are some one hundred thousand connectors in use in the military and security engineering sector, and while all have their advantages, they are not all suitable for all the requirements that will have to be met in this area in the future.

to choose from: The version from Series B (coding with pin and groove and locking with locking fingers) and a version from Series F (coding with half-shells and locking with locking fingers). There are also connectors with push-pull locking or in a break-away form. The new connectors are completely plug compatible with the standard receptacles from the familiar ODU MINI SNAP series, which means that there is no need to exchange receptacles that have already been installed. The new connector’s standard protection is IP 68 with respect to the terminal device’s tightness in mated and unmated conditions.

ODU AMC – Advanced Military Connector A further standard solution is the new ODU AMC (Advanced Military Connector) product series which has been designed especially for military technology. More than just a single connector, this is a complete product series. Six sizes with up to 55 contact positions are available as standard. The connection systems have been equipped with mechanical and color coding. The special feature here is that the color coding is only visible when the connector is not plugged in. The combination of color and mechanical coding makes incorrect plugging practically impossible. The user can choose between a version with secure Push-Pull locking and one with a breakaway function. Both connector versions can be inserted on the same receptacles, allowing maximum flexibility. The company has also included an “EasyClean” version as standard in the product portfolio. The inserted pogo-pins allow rapid and easy cleaning of the connector in the field. Dust, dirt and mud cannot harm this connector. The customer can also choose from various sizes and contact arrangements. Rounding out the new product series are 360° EMC protection, inserts for transferring data rates according to various protocols, and special versions, such as for “hot plugging”.

Here are just a few examples from the military sector that have already been implemented successfully: As a system supplier, ODU offers more than just the connection systems. The company also takes over complete assembly for its customers, including cable assembly. As a result, customers have a complete system, and only one contact person. Conditions in the field are harsh and varied making ruggedness a ‘must’ for any electronic component. ODU is only too aware of this. “Many of our connectors are already used in the military and we have drawn on this experience to develop the ODU AMC, leading us to choose a very rugged design.” notes Günter Rohr (Director of Strategic Markets at ODU).

Miniature cylindrical connector with screwlocking Very compact construction – Only 24 mm lng Protection class IP 68, Watertight to 2 m Connects light-laser modules to weapon systems – tested in the field Straight and right-angled models available

IP 68-key-button for flashlight in the military area and law enforcement. This key button replaces extension cable and protection covers

Customer-Specific Developments – the Right Solution Standard solutions often do not necessarily satisfy all the specifications that are needed for a particular application. In such cases, do not settle for a standard solution that is almost right – talk to ODU. As a specialist in customer-specific solutions, ODU can provide a completely new connector that meets all requested requirements. 4 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

ODU AMC including assembly and extrusion


SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY CONNECTOR TECHNOLOGY

ODU has already very successfully worked with system manufacturers in the “Soldier Modernization” area. “A close relationship with customers based on trust is very important to us,” reports Günter Rohr. “Because that is the only way that we and our customers can successfully press ahead with the projects. We at ODU are continually working on new developments and innovative technologies for the soldier of the future in order to make equipment even lighter and, above all, safer.” Mühldorf, 17. June 2011

Standard solutions often do not necessarily satisfy all the specifications that are needed for a particular application.

Your partner and system supplier for innovation and safety in defence and military technology

The ODU AMC product series variety

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SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY CONNECTOR TECHNOLOGY

Connectors and Connectivity in Counter Insurgency Marushka Dubova, Defence Correspondent

Military connectors are an integral and essential component delivering Network Enabled Capability (NEC) or Network Centric Warfare (NCW) from combat soldier to headquarters.

The United States Army, Marines and Special Forces are often seen from a European perspective to be the best equipped with the latest technology.

T

HESE CONNECTORS need to channel real time video and audio intelligence to the latest digital tablet computers in soldier modernization programs, from manned or unmanned aerial vehicles to commanders and the dismounted soldier.

Why are Connectors so Important? The doctrine that underpins the way that western soldiers approach combat is NEC or the American NCW. This doctrine aims to establish a link between the dismounted combat soldier on the front line on patrol, with his commander and his headquarters. At the same time, both the commander and the soldier need to access the latest intelligence reports - that is video and audio data streams in real time to enable faster manoeuvrability and better decision making. The doctrine in theory dictates that it also allows more precise targeting, but in today’s counter insurgency warfare the rules of engagement dictate that civilian deaths need to be avoided. The aim is to protect the soldier from the most common threat, the improvised explosive device, while delivering information that allows him to distinguish between civilians and active insurgents. The United States Army, Marines and Special Forces are often seen from a European perspective to be the best equipped with the latest technology. However, connecting legacy equipment that may only be a few years old with the latest digital handheld computers may require specific connectors that mate with multiple types of equipment. Secondly, the drive in the United States to simplify the acquisition process frequently means that ruggedised COTS (Commercial Off the Shelf) equipment needs to be used rather than connectors made specifically for the military market.

Western European Army Needs Western European armies have even tighter constraints. The level of cuts demanded from 6 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

the British and other NATO armies means that what new equipment that can be procured through Urgent Operational Requirements has to be connected to legacy systems that may be up to 15 years old. The industry is dealing with these constraints by developing new connectors for the latest devices while maintaining the ability to deliver older types.

A Strong Growing World Market Despite these constraints some specialists in the connector market see the market as buoyant and growing: “The world total value of connector shipments to the military/aerospace sector in 2010 was $3,374.4 million. With a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.2% for the 2010 to 2015 period, the military/aerospace sector is anticipated to show modest, but steady growth, over the next five years.”1


SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY CONNECTOR TECHNOLOGY

There’s Specification, Specification and Specification and Regulation!

Your partner and system supplier

Meredith LLewelyn, Lead Contributor

for innovation and safety in defence and military technology

Austauschbarkeit1

T

HE MILITARY market is highly specified as befits a sector where products will be used at operation tempo in adverse conditions in a harsh environment. There are long and detailed lists of military specifications stipulated by the Department of Defense. These complex specifications lead to a wide spectrum of diversity in product capability and a drive to simplify to avoid complication. This produces what one commentator sees as the dominance of circular connectors in military applications. “Circular connectors represent over one-third of all connectors used in the military market sector. Dominated by legacy type mil-spec connectors, including MIL-DTL-38999, MIL-DTL-26482, MIL-DTL-5015, and their derivatives, these environmentally sealed, ruggedized connectors form the backbone of military interconnects. Circular mil-spec connectors can be found as the primary I/O interconnect in a wide variety of military applications in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Examples include small tactical mission

computers for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), Command and Control On-the-Move systems, C4ISR Situational Awareness systems, cockpit voice and flight data flight recorders (CVFDR), fighting vehicles, fuel and engine sensors, landing gear, and weapon release systems.” 2 There used to be a distinction between military and commercial specifications but there is now significant overlap. “Circular connectors are typically divided into mil-spec types and commercial types. However, with the onset of COTS (commercial-off-the shelf) requirements imposed by many OEMs, military, and government purchasing entities, the dividing line has all but vanished. What has allowed this connector family to sustain and grow is the ability to adapt to the changing requirements and demands of the military sector and the ever-changing world of electronics. Mil-spec type circular connectors are routinely used today in commercial or industrial applications, and ruggedized versions of commercial circulars are used in military and other highreliability applications.”

www.odu.de

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SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY CONNECTOR TECHNOLOGY

The aim is to achieve a connector which is vibration, dust, rain, gas and saltwater-proof and can withstand an extremely wide range of temperatures without degrading, yet is easy to use by a gloved soldier under pressure in the dark.

What Makes the Military Market so Special? It’s the range and diversity of specifications. For example: “miniature, high density, bayonet, threaded, or breech coupling, circular, environment resistant, electrical connectors using removable crimp or fixed hermetic solder contacts, that are capable of operation within a temperature range of -65°C to +200°C”. And this is the beginning. The aim is to achieve a connector which is vibration, dust, rain, gas and saltwater-proof and can withstand an extremely wide range of temperatures without degrading, yet is easy to use by a gloved soldier under pressure in the dark. The military market is also segmented. There are special needs for subsea environments, fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft and spacecraft, as well as the diverse demands from the army, which has to have the capability to deploy in any environment. The demands are so extreme that future connectors may use materials only recently discovered by materials scientists.

EU ATEX Directives The European Union in 2006 imposed further constraints for electronic component manufacturers. They are directed at improving safety where there are what are described in French as ‘atmospheres explosives’(ATEX). The directive outlines stringent criteria to offer adequate protection to workers operating equipment in hazardous areas. All equipment and component parts deployed for use within hazardous environments in the EU must meet exhaustive testing standards to assure high performance in work environments where there is a risk of explosions, fire or extreme temperatures. Products passing the tests have a CE mark. Employers must classify areas where hazardous explosive atmospheres may occur into zones. The classification given to a particular zone, and its size and location, depends on the likelihood of an explosive atmosphere occurring and its persistence if it does. Areas classified into zones (0, 1, 2 for gas-vapor-mist and 20, 21, 22 for

AMC-blau-Stecker-GT

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dust) must be protected from effective sources of ignition. Equipment and protective systems intended to be used in zoned areas must meet the requirements of the directive.3 Zone 0 and 20 require Category 1 marked equipment, zone 1 and 21 required Category 2 marked equipment and zone 2 and 22 required Category 3 marked equipment. Manufacturers must ensure that their products meet essential health and safety requirements and undergo appropriate conformity procedures. This usually involves testing and certification by a ‘third-party’ certification body but manufacturers can ‘self-certify’. Designing equipment for use in a hazardous environment originated from the mining industry where safety concerns around the presence of gas underground made miners very aware of the risk of fires from switches and signaling equipment. This awareness has spread to safety concerns about ignition around flammable or explosive dusts, gases, vapours or liquids.4 Rigorous testing is required for all component parts before the EU will issue a certificate of approval to permit manufacturers to display the ratings seal on their products. Often, the most arduous step in the testing process is assessing materials to ensure they maintain integrity under extreme temperatures. The components must maintain integrity and performance at a range of temperatures. This can be especially problematic with cold impact testing as many materials, such as thermoplastics, perform well at high temperatures but can become brittle and splinter or crack at sub-zero temperatures.5 Another issue that can plague manufacturers is the restraint on use of materials. In 2003 the risk of use of hazardous substances restricted the use of lead, so manufacturers had to find a replacement. “Even the military has begun investigating the risk to reliability posed by lead-free electronic components. The absolute mandate for long-term reliability has made military subcontractors reluctant to adopt lead-free assembly because of concerns about tin whiskers and damage to other components due to higher processing temperatures. Military and aerospace products maintain their RoHS exemptions, but subcontractors are finding it more difficult to find leaded products, as the commercial industry has largely adopted lead-free. In some cases, pure tin solder tails have been dipped in leaded solder to satisfy an OEM. The industry has been working for several years on a Lead-Free Control Plan, which would assess the risks of introducing lead-free solder to military manufacturing processes. RoHS began what has been described as a blizzard of paperwork, as updates to existing directives are constantly updated and new


SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY CONNECTOR TECHNOLOGY

initiatives are spawned. It may well be that the expenditure of resources related to collecting and providing documentation mandated by these edicts may end up adding more cost than any actual tooling or product modifications.”6 There are other regulatory constraints limiting and requesting documentation. Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) create more work. With the growth of manufacturing overseas and in China, tracing and documenting the use of SVHCs can make documentation for the use of chemicals by suppliers complex. “With the migration of manufacturing to plants located overseas, and procurement from subcontractors and material suppliers located throughout the world, the task of verifying compliance increases exponentially. The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan have illustrated how interdependent global supply chains have become and how difficult it is to track the source of each component.” Global supply chains lead to other concerns where just-in-time deliveries of vital materials or components can be disrupted by events. The disruptive effects of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami have led to many companies reconsidering their supply lines. Similarly, the increasingly difficult and expensive access to rare earths to manufacture high specification components has increased pressure on manufacturing engineers. “The need to economically survey their entire supply chain is encouraging connector manufacturers to scale down their supplier base to a smaller trusted group that can support detailed reporting requirements. This may result in the elimination of many smaller suppliers. The same process may also occur at the OEM level. And this is not the end of it. Over and above RoHS, WEEE, and other regulations are a costly challenge, inspiring industry to switch from leaded solder and other hazardous chemicals to environmentally safer materials. Moreover, EU REACH and other findings have vastly increased regulatory complexity. The ability to provide supply chain transparency has become a criterion that OEMs are using in the connector vendor selection process. Compliance is a basic expectation, with increased on-site audits for verification.”7 While this level of regulation may seem excessive, the problem of counterfeit electronic goods in competition with the well documented products is a growing menace as the Communications Cable and Connectivity Association (CCCA) board noted in June 2011: “We view CCCA as a strong industry association… to address the proliferation of counterfeit products.”

The disruptive effects of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami have led to many companies reconsidering their supply lines.

Your partner and system supplier for innovation and safety in defence and military technology

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SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY CONNECTOR TECHNOLOGY

Connecting to Moore’s Law and the Future Don McBarnet, Staff Writer

“The future battle space will be congested, with forces drawn into densely populated AMC

areas; cluttered, where targets will be difficult to distinguish; contested, where access will be disputed; and connected, where communication and virtual networks will provide essential capabilities.“

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HE OPERATION of Moore’s Law and the pace of technological change in the electronics industry and its rate of take up by the military is an important potential growth area for the connector industry. The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence’s DCDC Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre characterizes it as “connected” and “cluttered.” “the future battle space will be congested, with forces drawn into densely populated areas; cluttered, where targets will be difficult to distinguish; contested, where access will be disputed; and connected, where communication and virtual networks will provide essential capabilities.“ The inherent connectedness of the battle space is the challenge as is the scale and range of the audio and video images to be delivered. As Mark Philips noted at the Royal United Services Institute recently, it is the complexity of the data to be delivered in real time that provides the connectivity challenge.9 Combat ISTAR is already essential to combat capability and a challenge: “Strategic, wide-area search capabilities, such as ASTOR (Sentinel R1), are used to cue CombatISTAR platforms onto targets of interest. In addition, it is complemented by systems that cover smaller areas; the Rafael Litening III electro-optical/infrared targeting pod is deployed on every Tornado sortie and is used to detect disturbed ground and buried heat sources – particularly valuable in the context of the IED threat. Moreover, the real value lies in the Tactical Imagery Intelligence Wing (TIW) at RAF Marham, which specialises in the exploitation of electro optical and infrared imagery from a range of sensors, including RAPTOR, to produce intelligence in direct support of operations.”

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Working Around Roadblocks to Enhanced Capabilities for Connectors The central idea is that advances in the semiconductor industry, in micro and nanoelectronics lead the connector industry. “Electronic connectors are an important, technologically interdependent component of the electronics industry. Connector product designs flow from electronic system requirements. These, in turn, dictate electrical performance, system packaging and interconnect, use of standards, and communications technology, i.e. bus topologies, wired or wireless I/O.” 10 John Mac Williams sees hazards ahead. First, there is size. Mac Williams sees “Precision injection-molded technology is approaching its limits”. What is more, current limits to connector miniaturization are approaching. Then density, “Fine-pitch contacts are nearing the limits of conventional technology”.” Area array contacts will be increasingly difficult below 0.5mm pitch and may be replaced by new bulk-micro-machined contact systems – or by direct-soldered BGA attach of large area arrays”. Next, thinner, SMT vs. through-hole mounting is already widespread. Weight is a constant overriding issue to both commercial and military clients. So, new materials technology is a continuing process. As always, speed is an ongoing issue; “serial vs. parallel circuitry is passing 10Gb/s.” “Area array contacts will be increasingly difficult below 0.5mm pitch and may be replaced by new bulk-micro-machined contact systems – or by direct-soldered BGA attach of large area arrays.” And all this in the context of rising environmental concerns about lead-free


SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY CONNECTOR TECHNOLOGY

and halogen-free products and processes. There is the question whether, in future, computers connectors might be eliminated.

Global Strategic Supply Underpinning the trend to minituarisation and cost reduction is the reality that the United States and Europe cannot match the downward pressure on costs of manufacture. While not all of the research and development is happening in China, a very large proportion of manufacture is not outsourced to China. “While dominating certain markets, North America is losing its ability to manufacture highvolume, low-cost products. We could re-establish it, but it would be a costly, time-critical exercise. Taiwan has outsourced motherboard, notebook computer, and other products to the mainland. While these regions have retained market share and technology, the nuts and bolts of the industry have been outsourced or relocated to China. The long-term future effects of this trend are uncertain, particularly in a fragile socio-political world environment.”

The New Apple iPad Challenge While the latest Apple tablet iPad may be highly desirable to business people and young professionals alike, their capabilities are of equal value to the military. The challenge that this product brings to the connector industry is intricate. “High-speed backplane and mezzanine connectors have experienced continuous evolution to satisfy requirements of higher pin counts, greater bandwidth, and design flexibility. The venerable 2mm HM-type pin and socket connector has morphed over the past 15 years into a series of highly sophisticated serial differential interfaces with carefully tuned impedance control and skew characteristics, while minimizing crosstalk. Mezzanine connectors have followed suit, with versions that feature minimum loss and distortion, and nearly infinite stacking height

Underpinning the trend to minituarisation and

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cost reduction is the reality that the United States and Europe

for innovation and safety in defence and military technology

cannot match the downward pressure on costs of manufacture. options. There is no doubt that the improved performance of board-to-board connectors has been enabled by advanced serializer/deserializer chips that can compensate for losses and distortion created within the channel. Materials used to fabricate the backplane itself have been improved to minimize loss and distortion. The process of assembling the backplane, such as reducing the diameter and backdrilling of the plated-through-hole, has minimized the negative effects of the un-terminated stub. Major improvements in PCB design tools more accurately predict high-speed performance and optimize trace layout. Backplane connectors that were originally designed to support 3.125 Gb/s performance have been upgraded using improved footprint designs, pin assignment, as well as advanced materials to allow published bandwidth to push 10+ Gb/s.”

AMC-Kabelteil-gerade-Umspritzung

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SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY CONNECTOR TECHNOLOGY

Connecting to Soldier Modernisation Programs Marushka Dubova, Defence Correspondent

It is frequently difficult to distinguish between the results of a national soldier modernization program and the use of new technology or data streams provided by the upgrade or use of a new platform.

T

HE DRIVING force behind soldier modernization programs has been the integration of the latest technologies into the soldiers carried kit. Connectors are an inherent part of that, in the same way as they share the pressures to decrease volume and weight, while delivering increased speed and interoperability. Interoperability in this context means not just the capability to connect within linked systems, but for connectors to mate to legacy systems and systems from other NATO countries’ soldiers who may be working side by side. This does not just apply to soldiers but also to contractors and civilians who are working on the same project in stabilization operations. The anecdotes about failure to make connections are legion, so the success in establishing connector interoperability between soldier modernization programs, and different NATO countries is worth recording. “NATO officials saw the interoperability issues coming. In 2003, NATO established the Soldier Systems Standardisation Industrial Working Group and instructed the group to harmonize levels of interoperability in anticipation of the new soldier systems, including FELIN. The group is focused on standardizing power consumption levels, computer and communications interfaces, combat identification techniques, and command-and-control systems for future soldier technology across the alliance. There have been some victories. For example, the battery connector for the French Army’s system is identical to the one used for the Italian Army’s Soldato Futuro system. This will help to increase coalition interoperability in the field.”11

UAV providing 24/7 combat ISTAR to British forces. Thales is providing ISTAR by the hour for British forces and is providing a continuous data stream to commanders on the ground in Afghanistan and wherever Watchkeeper is deployed. The ruggedness and resilience of these platforms depends on the failsafe quality of every connection. Similarly, Hamilton Sundstrand hardware being installed on the Space Shuttle Discovery included “the P5 truss, a one-ton assembly of struts and connectors that will extend outboard from the existing P4 power module added to the ISS during the last shuttle mission.“12 BAe uses military specification connectors on its Tornado Fast Loader Mark 2. This ruggedized lap top computer Tornado Fast Loader Mk2 rapidly uploads the Tornado aircraft’s main computer, radar homing and warning receiver and ADV radar data processor. Its special quality is its capacity to interconnect with the Tornado’s systems. For example, “an interface cable to connect the Fast Loader to IFU2 and the common Program Load connector on the aircraft, a 1553B cable to connect the Fast Loader to ATP2 on the aircraft and a Power cable to connect the Fast Loader to 28 Vdc from the aircraft ground power socket”.13 Northrop Grumman established last year a two-year program, entitled the Nanocomposite Connector Partnership, which includes “configuration and material trade studies to define cable design parameters and replicable manufacturing processes. The end result will be an optimized manufacturing platform designed to produce efficient and cost-effective materials, so that transition and broad-based implementation of carbon nanotube-based conductors can take place.”14

A victory for connector interoperability of sorts.

The Role of Major Defence Contractors in Working with Soldier Modernization Programs It is frequently difficult to distinguish between the results of a national soldier modernization program and the use of new technology or data streams provided by the upgrade or use of a new platform. For example, Thales has been masterminding the new Watchkeeper 12 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

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SPECIAL REPORT: MILITARY CONNECTOR TECHNOLOGY

References: 1

The Perpetual Domination of Circular Connectors in Military Applications By Jenny Bieksha, Bishop & Associates Inc.

2

The Perpetual Domination of Circular Connectors in Military Applications By Jenny Bieksha, Bishop & Associates Inc.

3

Wikipedia ATEX

4

Fire-proof electronic connectors explored http://www.electronicsweekly.com/Articles/2011/06/01/51160/fire-proof-electronic-connectorsexplored.htm – Stuart Hutchings Wednesday 01 June 2011 10:28

5

Fire-proof electronic connectors explored http://www.electronicsweekly.com/Articles/2011/06/01/51160/fire-proof-electronic-connectorsexplored.htm – Stuart Hutchings Wednesday 01 June 2011 10:28

6

Regulation Overload Impacts the Connector Industry By Bob Hult, Bishop & Associates

7

Regulation Overload Impacts the Connector Industry By Bob Hult, Bishop & Associates

8

http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/3E38C6EC-4A76-402F-9E28-C571EAB9929F/0/fcoc_final_revised_12Feb10.pdf

9

Mark Phillips, Head of Land Capabilities and Operations at RUSI, reviews the impact that the RAPTOR sensor pod is making in Afghanistan, and how it should be factored into future UK Combat-ISTAR capability. http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/RDS_201103_Philips.pdf

10

Roadblocks to Success in the Electronics Industry and Connectors By John MacWilliams, Bishop & Associates Inc. Connector Supplier

11

French connections New gear links soldiers with sensors, computers, weapons and radios http://www.c4isrjournal.com/story.php?F=3538055 - By Tom Withington July 01, 2008

12

Press release: Hamilton Sundstrand equipment to activate permanent power system on the International Space Station Contact: Windsor Locks, USA- North America, Connecticut, Dec 10, 2006

13

BAe Press release http://baesystems.com/BAEProd/groups/public/@businesses/@insyte/documents/bae_publication/bae_pdf_insyte_ds_tfl.pdf

14

http://www.interconnectionworld.com/index/display/article-display/4911401272/articles/connector-specifier/conn

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