What’s Better – TWTAs or SSPAs?

By Mike Lee, Director of Sales and Marketing

The short answer is: it depends on the application. Traveling wave tube amplifiers sometimes catch a lot of flak because they’re considered “old technology.” Although they’ve been around a while, TWTAs with new innovations are still relatively unmatched in power and are still preferred for use in space for their superior efficiency. In fact, many modern UAVs (such as General Atomics’ MQ-9 Reaper) use synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems powered by the TWTAs manufactured here at dB Control. Plus, TWTAs are used on major airborne datalink, Radar, EW and ECM applications. That said, there are applications where solid state power amplifiers (SSPAs) have the advantage – like in some wideband electronic countermeasures. We put together this guide to help you select the amplifier that best fits your application. If you need more insight into these pros and cons, let’s chat – please email me at mlee@dbcontrol.com.

TWTA vs. SSPA: Advantages and Disadvantages

(All units have the same linearity, intermodulation and spectral regrowth performance. Click on the table to enlarge.)