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Allen-Vanguard, a specialist in providing customised solutions to defeat radio frequency (RF)-based terrorist and extremist threats, has recently secured funding from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to develop novel technologies and techniques to counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the company announced on 4 May 2023.

The funding comes under the aegis of a focused call for innovation proposals administered by the MoD’s Defence & Security Accelerator (DASA) mechanism and specifically addresses the need for “new or novel hardware and ancillaries”.

In developing advanced technology to counter RF-based terrorist and extremist threats globally, Allen-Vanguard has been developing the concept of Remote Radio Heads (RRH) to maximise the efficiency – and hence increase the inhibition range – delivered by the company’s electronic countermeasure (ECM) systems while minimising their size, weight and power (SWaP) consumption.

The funding will lead to the development of an RRH demonstrator to de-risk several key areas associated with its development and use in the land-based cyber electromagnetic environment.

“There are multiple technical challenges to be overcome, especially concerning thermal management (when reducing size and weight) and specialist techniques to maintain signal fidelity and synchronisation,” the company explained in a press release. “In addition, the demonstrator will use ‘RF over Fibre’ (RFoF) to distribute multiple wideband RF signals between a software-defined radio and the high-power multi-band RRH.

To deliver on the project Allen-Vanguard has partnered with two other specialist UK companies: Plextek Services, which will use artificial intelligence (AI) generative design to derive a SWaP-efficient cooling scheme to minimise the thermal impact of an RRH; and Pulse Power and Measurement (PPM), which will optimise the application of RFoF technology.

Allen-Vanguard’s preliminary concept for a Remote Radiohead (RRH). (Image: Allen-Vanguard)

This team will aim to deliver an RRH demonstrator with the following key benefits:

  • Improved mission success: more efficient delivery of ECM RF effect
  • Increased inhibition range and maximum range of RF apertures
  • Use of RFoF to eliminate cable losses between power amplifier and antenna
  • Use of RFoF to offer unparalleled bandwidth and isolation performance
  • Optical wavelength division multiplexing-based switching to provide dynamic reconfigurability.

In addition to the above, the RRH delivers significant SWaP reductions, which benefits the end user in relation to the reduced space, heat and electromagnetic interference caused inside the vehicle.

Bobby Strawbridge, director of business development for Allen-Vanguard, was quoted as saying, “This funding is excellent news, and drives forward this complex area of future ECM. We are very excited to be working in partnership with Plextek and PPM to push the boundaries of this capability, benefitting the end user by delivering a more effective capability to improve mission success, with far less impact on their operating space.”

Peter Felstead