Optical interconnect for upgraded military aircraft sub-systems

The LightABLE is now used in numerous sub-systems of the recently upgraded SH-60K of the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

The LightABLE is now used in numerous sub-systems of the recently upgraded SH-60K of the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

Military aircraft either consist of rotary-wing or fixed-wing aircraft that are used for combat or surveillance missions, or for the transportation of military personnel and supplies. Many of the global military aircraft fleets are designed to be in service for decades.
Nowadays, because of budget constraints, defense administrations are focusing on upgrading and retrofitting the existing fleet of aircraft with advanced avionics, flight control, weapons, and other systems to make their aircraft more efficient and keep pace with the changing nature of modern warfare.
In addition, several surveillance systems are being installed in airplanes as emergency warning systems to enhance aircraft situational awareness of pilots and reduce their workload.
Special mission airplanes and UAVs are also being deployed for reconnaissance and surveillance missions across land and maritime borders, which necessitates the retrofitting of communication, navigation and surveillance (CNS) systems into existing military fleets.

Benefits of using optical LightABLE transceivers

  • Small: Less than 5 mm high
  • Rugged: MIL-STD 883 shock and vibration qualified
  • Sealed: Moisture and thermal shock resistant
  • Storage temperature: –57 ºC to 125 ºC
  • Performance: 12.5 Gbps/lane from –40 ºC to 100 ºC
  • BER: As low as 10–15
  • Sensitivity: –12 dBm
  • Proven: Thousands used in aerospace and defense applications
  • Low power consumption: 100 mW/lane

Transceiver used in this application

LightABLE 50G and 150G embedded transceivers

 LightABLE LM 50G and 150G embedded transceivers

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Description of the application

Many of the world’s military forces are renewing their military aircraft fleets to add or improve sub-systems.

Many of the world’s military forces are renewing their military aircraft fleets to add or improve sub-systems.
  • Infrared countermeasures
  • Radar upgrades
  • Situational awareness systems
  • Cockpit data links
  • Communication equipment
  • Integrated flight deck systems
  • Mission management computers
  • Displays, including head-up displays
  • Airborne intelligence gathering systems
  • Precision guidance systems
  • CNS systems

Upgrading with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components and technology

As the industry is forced to become more cost effective in system designs for avionics retrofits, the use of COTS technology becomes more prevalent. COTS avionics components and systems have numerous advantages: they shorten the design cycle, are more affordable and can be used on multiple platforms.
It is expected that the increased utilization of COTS systems in military aircraft will provide growing opportunities for suppliers to enter the military aircraft modernization, upgrade, and retrofit market.

Optical interconnect for modernization, upgrade, and retrofit of military aircraft sub-systems

As explained above, aircraft modernization is needed to maintain a relevant defense system. Optical interconnects delivers the high bandwidth to accommodate AESA (active electronics scanned arrays, high resolution cameras, and other advanced aircraft sub-systems. As well, optical interconnects with its inherent EMI immunity and small SWaP is the interconnect of choice for modern aircraft.
Reflex Photonics’ rugged embedded optical modules with their small footprint, high I/O density, and low power consumption have enabled many aircraft sub-systems to achieve the high performance and reliability needed for aircraft modernization.

Radar warning receiver (RWR)
Missile launch detector (MLD)
Active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.
Mission computers
Head-up display
Multi-function display (PMFD)
Data link
Helmet mounted displays and sights
Cockpit management systems
Targeting systems
Optronic payloads
Optical bus
Optical interconnects with its inherent EMI immunity and small SWaP is the interconnect of choice for modern aircraft.

Optical transceivers upgrade for 100/140 µm aircraft optical cabling

Optical transceivers upgrade for 100/140 µm aircraft optical cabling

The LightABLE embedded optical module can also be used with 100 µm fiber optic cables commonly found in older aircraft, eliminating the need to re-cable the aircraft to achieve higher interconnect bandwidth.
Reflex Photonics has demonstrated its LightABLE optical transceiver delivers error-free operation at 10 Gbps with older 100 µm fiber thus, alleviating the need to replace the installed optical cables.

Reflex Photonics to help develop next generation rugged transceivers based on silicon photonics (SiP) research.

Reflex Photonics is proud to announce that we will collaborate with Prof. Michaël Ménard of Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) to build on the technological advantages of silicon photonics (SiP) for optical transceivers.

Reflex Photonics and UQAM have signed a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Engage research agreement to explore the use of SiP in our next generation of rugged embedded transceivers. Silicon photonics technology takes advantage of the manufacturing processes developed by the microelectronic industry to achieve complex high-performance integrated optical systems.
The technology enables innovative embedded transceiver solutions where the optical inputs/outputs (I/O) are implemented at the chip level using integrated silicon optical devices/circuits and micro-optics. SiP also permits the design of optical interconnects transceivers with a small form-factor and low power consumption. However, the implementation of silicon photonic devices brings new challenges, notably with regards to its integration with light sources and the optical fibers. Reflex Photonics wants to explore potential rugged transceiver solutions compatible with its target space and industrial applications and assess the commercial viability of the technology. Engage research grants are short-term research and development (R&D) research collaborations in which universities apply their expertise to address a company challenge. Partnering companies gain by having the expertise of the academics focused on their R&D issues and by discovering what the researchers and the students working with them have to offer. These projects serve as the first step to establishing a longer-term, impactful collaboration.

Reflex Photonics’ Founder, V.P., and CTO David Rolston comments:

Reflex Photonics wants to establish wider range of expertise and research capabilities in collaboration with Prof. Michaël Ménard at UQAM to explore and develop SiP solutions for embedded transceivers.
We think SiP has the potential for advanced and lightweight optical interconnect solutions designed to be robust and qualified for harsher operating environments which is usually required by space and military applications.

About the Université du Québec à Montréal

The Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) is a dynamic, open, creative university with an international outreach. It is recognized for the originality and quality of its 300 programs, its cutting-edge research, solidly grounded in social concerns, and its innovation in the arts. Located in the heart of Montreal, UQAM welcomes more than 42,000 students.

Reflex Photonics inaugurates a new office in Paris

Reflex Photonics is pleased to announce the opening of a new office in Paris.

Reflex Photonics is pleased to announce the opening of a new office in Paris to better serve its growing clientele in Europe.

Reflex Photonics Europe is strategically located in the heart of Paris, a stone-throw from Place Vendôme
The opening represents an important milestone, as Reflex Photonics has been actively looking to strengthen its European offering by increasing its local presence.

Pierre Cardinal, Director of International Sales adds:

The opening of this office illustrates our commitment to the European market. It will enable Reflex Photonics to sustain its growth in the region and offer better support to our local customers in key sectors of aerospace/avionic, defense, and industrial markets.
Building excellent relations with all the strategic players in these markets is essential and our new office is a first step to ensure that Reflex Photonics is better placed to support existing and new clients across the European region.
Furthermore, the newly implemented Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) gives Reflex Photonics improved access in services and government procurement offering duty-free access to these supply chains for global business opportunities.

Representatives of Reflex Photonics will be present at the Canadian Pavilion at the 2018 Eurosatory Defense & Security International Exhibition held in Paris from June 11th to the 15th.

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Reflex Photonics to demo its new radiation–resistant SpaceABLE optical transceivers at Space Tech Expo USA 2018

Reflex Photonics will proudly display and demo its new radiation-resistant SpaceABLE optical transceiver and SpaceCONEX active optical blind mate interconnect for VPX systems at the upcoming Space Tech Expo USA 2018.
The SpaceABLE optical transceivers and SpaceCONEX VPX interconnect have been submitted to the most stringent protocol for heavy-ions, gamma rays, and high and low energy protons to ensure space worthiness of these COTS components.

Reflex Photonics’ radiation resistant or “Space-grade” transceivers and interconnects solutions are engineered to withstand radiation doses >100 krad (Si) as per the European Cooperation for Space Standardization ECSS-Q-ST-60-15C. In addition to the LightABLE rugged transceivers standard qualifications (vibration, mechanical and thermal shock, thermal cycling, and cold storage according to MIL-STD-883 and MIL-STD-810), the SpaceABLE were successfully qualified with the following protocols:

  • Proton testing: Total Non-Ionizing Dose (TNID).
  • Heavy ion testing: Single Event Effect & Latch-up (SEE and SEL).
  • Gamma ray using Cobalt-60: Total Ionizing Dose (TID) (MIL-STD-883G, method 1019.7).

 

The SpaceCONEX is a revolutionary radiation-resistant active optical blind mate interconnect for VPX embedded computing systems; it consists of a plug-in module connector and a backplane connector meeting the requirements of the forthcoming VITA 66.5 standard.

The commercial space industry is slowly emerging from an era of mega-projects and almost unlimited budgets to a become a dynamic industry supporting multiple commercial projects. One such endeavor envisions the deployment of complex satellite networks to deliver global Internet access. This project is made possible by more reliable, lower-consumption, smaller and more powerful computer, and high-speed optical communication systems.

 

The epitomy of SWaP

The advantages of using Reflex Photonics’ line of small, lightweight, high-bandwidth SpaceABLE parallel optical transceiver modules and interconnects inside these satellites are quite obvious: the SpaceABLE modules offer extremely high aggregate data rates (over 150 Gbps), and still, they are less than 1.5 cm3, weigh less than 5 g and consume less than 1.2 W.

Guillaume Blanchette, PM at Reflex Photonics adds:

Reflex Photonics wants to “bring space a little closer” by offering COTS optical transceivers and optical infrastructure that will support the deployment of the Internet of Space and enable the next generation of space exploration.

Come see demos of the space grade radiation-resistantSpaceABLE transceivers and SpaceCONEX active VPX interconnects at Space Tech Expo-USA in Pasadena, CA, USA from May 22ndto 24th(booth 6028).

Optics all around: interview of Gerald Persaud

Amelia Dalton from EE Journal interviews Gerald Persaud, Reflex Photonics' V.P. Business Development.

This week we investigate embedded optical modules with Gerry Persaud from Reflex Photonics - The Light on Board Company. Gerry and I discuss the benefits of  their chip-sized embedded optical modules and why Reflex Photonics stands out in the optical module ecosystem. 

Lear more on Mr. Persaud, V.P. Business Development

Gerald Persaud | V.P. Business Development

Gerald Persaud is responsible for overseeing global marketing, business development and customer initiatives related to the Reflex Photonic's product lines, as well as managing product development and customer technical support. 
Read more

Gerald has over 20 years experience in telecom and defense. Prior to joining Reflex Photonics he held senior management roles in engineering and business development at Nortel, General Dynamic Canada, and Celestica. Gerald has developed many leading products in optical communication, wireless and advanced computing. Gerald doubled revenues at start-up Coresim in one year and precipitated an acquisition by Celestica. He also won the largest design contract ever in Celestica for an OTN switch.
Gerald holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering at McMaster University.

Space grade, radiation–hardened LightSPACE optical transceivers ushers a new era of global communication.

Reflex Photonics is proud to announce the launch of the space grade radiation-hardened LightSPACE line of products. The LightSPACE optical transceivers have been submitted to the most stringent protocol for heavy-ions, gamma rays, and high and low energy protons to ensure space worthiness of these components.
Reflex Photonics’ radiation hardened or “Space-grade” transceivers are engineered to withstand radiation doses >100 krad as per the European Cooperation for Space Standardization ECSS-Q-ST-60-15C. In addition to the standard LightABLE rugged transceivers standard qualifications (vibration, mechanical and thermal shock, thermal cycling, and cold storage according to MIL-STD-883 and MIL-STD-810), the LightSPACE were successfully qualified with the following protocols:

  • Proton testing: Total Non-Ionizing Dose (TNID) 
  • Heavy ion testing: Single Event Effect & Latch-up (SEE and SEL)
  • Gamma ray using Cobalt-60: Total Ionizing Dose (TID) (MIL-STD-883G, method 1019.7)

The space community is slowly evolving from an era of mega-projects and unlimited budgets to a dynamic commercial industry that can support multiple business.
One such endeavor envisions complex satellite networks to deliver global Internet access. This project is made possible by more reliable, lower-consumption, smaller and more powerful computer and high-speed optical communication systems.
With the cost of sending even just 1 kg into space at over $50 k, the advantages of using the Reflex Photonics’ line of small, lightweight, high-density LightSPACE parallel optical transceiver modules inside these satellites are quite obvious. The LightSPACE modules offer extremely high aggregate data rates (over 150 Gbps) they are less than 3 cm2 and weigh less than 15 g.

Guillaume Blanchette, PM at Reflex Photonics adds:

Reflex Photonics wants to “bring space a little closer” by offering low-cost optical transceivers and optical infrastructure that will support the deployment of the Internet of Space and enable the next generation of space exploration.

The Internet of space and radiation hardened transceivers

We are on the verge of a new era of human connectivity and communications – the Internet of Space (IoS) is upon us. The explosion of worldwide communications over the past 25 years has led to the pervasive use of mobile and land communications equipment with an abundance of platforms, applications and devices all driving the growth of many of the largest businesses in the world. There is no doubt that this trend will continue through the Internet of Things (IoT), along with improvements to the underlying network infrastructure. However, the next, ‘Small Step’ for man in terms of ubiquitous communications will be the ‘Giant Leap’ into the Internet of Space.

Internet of Space

The Internet of Space (IoS) is a long-term vision that leaders in some of the most technologically advanced companies in the world have begun to seriously consider. Both the European Space Agency and NASA have prepared plans that involve the deployment of networks of satellite around the Earth, Mars and the Sun. These networks are composed of complex communications networks for MIMO microwave antenna arrays and free-space line-of-sight laser links.
These technologies will be responsible for the communications of manned missions to Mars and will have to have the best in terms of redundancy, speed, and network management as most of what we send up, will never be fixed. Further to this however, will be the machine-learning A.I. systems on-board exploratory robots and landers for the moon and Mars including asteroid mining that will be tasked with resource extraction. For example, before the arrival of astronauts on Mars, dozens of intelligent, self-exploring robots and rovers will have to have found water on the planet for them. Basically, the self-driving cars of today will become the self-exploring robots of space.

New players in space exploration

OneWeb Satellites is planning the launch 900 satellites into low Earth orbit beginning in 2018, to deliver Internet access globally.

Coverage areas of each of OneWeb's planned satellites. (OneWeb)

The success of companies like SpaceX have shown that many of the traditionally held ideas about space exploration are breaking down and commercial opportunities are staring to be explored.
With more reliable, lower-consumption, smaller and more powerful computer systems, it is now possible to truly envision complex space networks.
OneWeb Satellites is planning the launch 900 satellites into low Earth orbit beginning in 2018, to deliver Internet access globally.

TeleSat, a Canadian company, has a plan to deploy almost 300 LEO satellites by 2021 to serve as an interconnect for continual 3G data networks for ship and aircraft connections over the oceans. However, as more commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) parts are targeted for space applications as a mean to take advantage of powerful technologies at lower costs, a more meaningful business-case for vendors can now be made to support the space-vendor-ecosystem.

Space environment

However, there is a catch… The space environment itself is extremely severe; outside the protective cushion of the earth’s magnetosphere the exposure to radiation and extreme temperatures can destroy terrestrial electronics. Therefore, to really open these markets, the vendors will have to meet the space community half-way, and do what they can to “space-ify” their COTS products.

SpaceABLE radiation hardened optical transceivers

SpaceABLE is available in different configurations: 50G (4 TX plus 4 RX lane per device) and 150G (12 TX or 12 RX lane per device).

Reflex Photonics has a plan to do just that – with the cost of sending even just 1 kg into space at over $50 k, the advantages of using the Reflex Photonics’ line of small, lightweight, high-density SpaceABLE parallel optical transceiver modules inside the satellites will impact this enormously.
The Reflex family of SpaceABLE modules offer extremely high aggregate data rates (over 150 Gbps), the modules are less than 3 cm2 and weigh less than 5 g. They can be placed anywhere on a motherboard or linecard linking powerful CPU’s, GPU’s and FPGA’s across multiple boards and racks.

Rigorous testing

In terms of reliability, the SpaceABLE product follows the rigorous environmental testing of MIL-STD-883 with a variety of thermal shock, vibration, humidity and cycling tests included. Furthermore, Reflex Photonics has qualified these parts under very stringent radiation exposure tests: Active Heavy-Ion testing for latch-up, SEE and SET failures, long-term irradiation from PIF and NIF cyclotrons, and long-term exposure (over several weeks) of gamma-rays using Cobalt-60 on active parts. These tests were all done with reference to the ECSS-Q-ST-60-15 Space product assurance standard - Radiation hardness assurance - EEE components.
The space community is slowly evolving from an era of mega-projects and unlimited budgets to a dynamic industry that envisions a commercial market with volumes that can support multiple business. It can no longer afford the “nine-nines” of reliability – especially when private commercial enterprises like Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipOne and XCOR’s Lynx space vehicles are rapidly closing in on tradition institutional domains. Reflex Photonics is part of this belief and this ultimate goal of Bringing space a little closer™ by offering optical transceivers and optical infrastructure that will enable the next generation of space exploration.

Reflex Photonics makes a splash at OFC

Reflex Photonics newly released optical transceivers for Embedded computing and Space captured much attention at OFC2018.

Visitors to Reflex’s booth were surprised by the small size of the LightCONEX active optical blind mate connector for rugged VPX computing and commented that this is the first solution to solve the many real-estate challenges for small rugged embedded computers.
As well, they thought the 300GBps bandwidth over 24 fiber optic channels offered great bandwidth and I/O density for next generation manned and unmanned vehicles.
The newly released LightSPACE radiation hardened space transceivers from Reflex was also a big hit as engineers now have small chip sized optical transceivers that meets the needs for all future space equipment and high altitude aircraft.
Many visitors commented that Reflex is a leader in rugged optical transceivers and are happy we continue to focus on this market.

Demonstration of the LightCONEX blind mate optical interconnect at OFC
Demonstration of the LightCONEX blind mate optical interconnect at OFC
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What are LightCONEX active optical interconnects ?

Reflex Photonics announced the availability of the LightCONEX 12+12 Active Blind Mate Optical Interconnect solution for the embedded computing systems market. This new line of products features 12-lane full-duplex transceivers, each lane operating at up to 12.5 Gbps for an aggregate bandwidth of up to 300 Gbps. These transceivers are rugged, small-SWaP, low-cost modules, specifically designed for the VPX systems commonly deployed in defense and aerospace applications.

The LightCONEX Solution

The LightCONEX solution is the result of a close partnership between Reflex Photonics and Amphenol Aerospace Operations. The LightCONEX comprises a board-edge plug-in module connector, integrating an active parallel optic transceiver, and a spring-loaded backplane connector developed for VPX systems as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. LightCONEX Active Blind Mate VPX Optical Interconnect

The plug-in module connector reduces system cost and complexity since the optical transceiver mounts to the board edge via a low-height LGA connector. It requires no on-board optical cables handling or routing and frees up board space. The LightCONEX low profile plug-in module connector facilitates eventual integration of mezzanine card. This solution enables easy board card replacement for two-level maintenance and simplifies system upgrades.
The backplane connector, also part of the LightCONEX Solution, is “floating” to allow for precise alignment of the optical fibers from the mating MT ferrules. The spring-loading mechanism is coming from the attached fiber cable terminated by the MT ferrule ensuring optimal mating forces.

Figure 1.
LightCONEX Active Blind Mate VPX Optical Interconnect

The dimensions of these connector modules are defined to be fully compatible with the current VITA 66 standards and particularly the upcoming VITA 66.5 “Optical Interconnect on VPX, Spring Loaded Contact on Backplane” standard. The backplane connector is a drop-in replacement for the VITA 66.4 standard backplane connector.

The LightCONEX Active Optical Transceivers

The active optical modules used in the LightCONEX Solution are also available as standalone modules. They are offered in two versions, as shown in figure 2. The first version is offering a (4+4)-lane transceiver, a 12-lane transceiver or a 12- lane transmitter. The dimensions for each module of this version are 23 mm ×14 mm ×5 mm (L×W×H).

LightABLE LGA and LightABLE LGA 12+12

The second version is a (12+12)-lane full duplex transceiver. The MT ferrule of this module has 24 fibers in two rows of 12 on top of each other.
Its dimensions are only 32 mm × 14 mm × 5 mm (L×W×H).

Figure 2.
150G and 300G LightCONEX Optical Transceivers

The main features of these active modules are:

  • Rugged: MIL STD 883 compliant
  • Moisture resistant: sealed
  • Compact (L×W×H): 23 mm ×14 mm ×5 mm for the 12-lane version and 32 mm ×14 mm ×5 mm for the 24-lane version
  • High bandwidth: up to 12.5 Gbps/lane
  • Operating temperature: –40 ºC to 100 ºC
  • Reach: 300 m, OM3 fiber
  • Bit Error Rate: 10–15
  • Low power consumption: 1.4 W per module (12-lane), 2.8 W per module (24-lane)
  • Data interface: CML
  • Board mount: LGA connector

All modules include equalizers and pre-emphasis to compensate long traces; these features can be turned off for short traces (less than 10 cm) to reduce power consumption.

300G LightCONEX VPX Blind Mate Connectors

300G LightCONEX composed of a 12-lane transmitter plus a 12-lane receiver.

Figure 3a shows a 12-lane transmitter adjacent to a 12-lane receiver occupying the space reserved for RF coaxial connectors within the VITA 67.3 standard. This arrangement can sustain a total communication throughput of up to 300 Gbps.

300G LightCONEX VPX backplane connector.

Figure 3.
a) 300G LightCONEX composed of a 12-lane transmitter plus a 12-lane receiver.
b) 300G LightCONEX VPX backplane connector.

Future deployments

600G LightCONEX plug-in module composed of two 24-lane transceiver side by side.

To increase the I/O capability while maintaining a small size connector It is possible to set two 300G 24-lane transceivers side by side in the space reserved for RF Coaxial connectors following VITA 67.3 standard. Such a board is offering a total communication capability of up to 600Gbps! This version is illustrated in figure 4.

Figure 4.
600G LightCONEX plug-in module composed of two 24-lane transceiver side by side.

Illustration of a VPX blind mate connector comprising of a 24 fiber MT ferrule and 10 RF coaxial connectors.

Another configuration would use a combination of optical and RF coaxial connections on the same modules. Figure 5 (as proposed by TE Connectivity) illustrates such a configuration. In this illustration, a 300G 24-lane transmitter or receiver or transceiver is integrated with an array of 10 RF coaxial connectors.

Figure 5.
Illustration of a VPX blind mate connector comprising of a 24 fiber MT ferrule and 10 RF coaxial connectors. The size of this connector meets VITA 66.4 standard.

In summary

Optical Interconnects offer high bandwidth throughput, low latency, assure signal integrity and is the most scalable technology for fast upgrades. The rugged construction of the LightCONEX solution has demonstrated error free data transmission under severe shock, vibration, and temperature extremes.
The LightCONEX solution finds applications in multisensor systems, optical backplanes, routers, switches, and VPX systems, like those deployed in high-performance embedded computing systems for civilian and military command and control monitoring (C4ISR) systems.

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