Marines “Mega Drone” Illustrates Need for High-Efficiency Microwave Power Modules

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A recent Military article revealed details about the US Marines’ “mega-drone,” an impressive Group 5 aircraft (the largest class of military UAV) that can carry the same payload as an F-35B and fly a radius of up to 700 nautical miles at 30,000 feet. This Marine Air Ground Task Force Unmanned Aircraft System-Expeditionary (or MUX, for short) also will be able to fill “an extremely broad range of missions, including electronic warfare, reconnaissance and surveillance; command, control, communications and computers [C4]; aircraft escort; persistent fires; early warning; and tactical distribution.”

While MUX likely won’t be fully operational until 2034, it sparks a larger conversation about how UAV platform requirements continue to shift. For example, as military operations get more advanced and threats increase in sophistication, subsystems essential to the UAV’s radar such as the microwave power module (MPM) must be up to those challenges. The MUX story highlights a couple of important considerations for defense manufacturers and subcontractors in the UAV market:

  1. UAVs will carry more weight. Because current and future UAVs carry a heavy amount of mission-critical equipment, they can’t be weighed down by the very systems that help ensure stability and accuracy of the operation. This means that products like MPMs must be lighter and take up less space – all while consuming less power than their predecessors.
  2. A UAV’s list of capabilities will continue to grow. As the demand for high-quality data, video and internet over satellite increases, so will the need for multi-functional, highly efficient systems. Because MPMs now serve as transmitters for advanced radar, ECM and communication systems, design engineers should get comfortable with the idea of designing a product that helps the overall system “wear many hats.”

To stay ahead of these requirements, dB Control introduced a high-efficiency MPM for UAVs and other advanced airborne applications. The dB-3756HE MPM uses a combination of microwave tube technology and a solid-state amplifier to offer next-gen performance in the following areas:

  • High efficiency performance
  • Low power consumption
  • 9 to 10 GHz frequency range
  • 1KW pulsed output power at 20% maximum duty cycle
  • Full 1,000 MHz of bandwidth

While the Marines have received some pushback for MUX’s lofty list of requirements, we understand just how realistic their requirements are. that’s why our modular design approach is so beneficial. It enables us to fully customize and improve products based on customer feedback and new innovative applications. As SWaP, multi-functionality and efficiency increase in importance, we’ll be on the engineering frontlines to help the MUX and other “mega” UAVs prepare for take-off.


Source of first image in this post: Bell V-247 Vigilant (Image: Bell Helicopters)


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