Lockheed, Intel’s Altera Collaborating On Microelectronics Project For MH-60R Defense System Upgrade

Lockheed Martin said Monday its working with Intel and its Altera semiconductor manufacturing firm to develop an open architecture, low size weight and power upgrade that increases the capability of the electronic defense system on the Navy’s MH-60R helicopters. 

Kevin Mahoney, Lockheed Martin’s director of airborne electronic warfare, told reporters the project is in support of the Office of Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering’s (OUSD R&E) Stimulating Transition for Advanced Microelectronics Packaging (STAMP) program, with an aim to demonstrate a specific use case for upgrading capabilities using domestically-produced microelectronics.

“Secure, dependable access to microelectronics is a national security imperative. Our customers’ missions depend on advanced semiconductor technology. The 21st century technology we need to maintain our security going forward depends on a steady and secure supply of microelectronics. This strategic collaboration will help reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources for microelectronics,” Mahoney said during a briefing on the new effort.

Under a $7.7 million, 18-month Other Transaction Authority agreement, Mahoney said Lockheed Martin will take the Intel and Altera-developed Multi-Chip Package (MCP2), put it into a Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA)-aligned 3U module and integrate it as a digital upgrade for the MH-60R’s AN/ALQ-210 Electronic Support Measure (ESM) system. 

“Utilizing Altera’s Multi-Chip Package, which features the latest in semiconductor technology, our project seeks to revolutionize the efficiency and effectiveness of defense systems for expected use on MH-60R helicopters. This technology promises a leap in capabilities to ensure superior performance on the modern battlespace,” Mahoney said. “That SOSA alignment that we’re doing really allows us to make this system more open, make it more easily upgradeable in the future for both hardware and software updates and eases integration into the host platform.”

John Sotir, senior director of Altera’s military aerospace and government business unit’s acceleration division, told reporters the company’s MCP2 microelectronics solution incorporates “the most advanced data converters into one package.”

“That gives you higher performance for new mission capabilities in a constrained SWaP-C environment,” Sotir said.

Mahoney said this project in support of the STAMP effort aligns the CHIPS and Science Act’s, bolstering domestic semiconductor manufacturing capacity and the Pentagon’s efforts to “bridge the valley of death” in implementing new microelectronics capabilities. 

“What STAMP is focused on is helping to bridge that valley of death, [to] take the technology development and bring it further into an actual product that can be used by our armed forces,” Mahoney said. “There is not a guaranteed contract application and implementation of this at the end of STAMP. But what STAMP does is take that chip-level investment [and] turns it into a usable product so it basically shortens the putt into actual implementation onto a platform.”

Mahoney noted the technology being developed through this STAMP project has “very wide applications” beyond use on MH-60Rs, adding Lockheed Martin has its own parallel effort “investing to look at those other platforms and other opportunities where this can be applicable.”

“This versatility ensures our defense systems remain adaptable and capable of addressing emerging threats,” Mahoney said. “Everything we’re doing is applicable to all onboard ESM systems across the services. So we’ll be looking to take this and apply it to every rotary or fixed-wing platform that we currently have systems on and really maximizing this investment from OUSD [R&E], Intel and Lockheed Martin.”

Lockheed Martin is planning demonstrations for late 2024 to showcase how the technology with Altera’s chip capability can work with additional platforms, according to Mahoney.

A version of this story originally appeared in affiliate publication Defense Daily.

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