Physical Size Allocations for RF Electronics in Digital Beamforming Phased Arrays

Phased array radars and active electronically scanned arrays (AESA) have been in use and deployed within the aerospace and defense market for well over a decade. This period began with primarily analog beamforming systems, with continual migration to higher levels of digital beamforming. System engineering objectives continually desire near elemental digital beamforming implementations for maximum flexibility and programmability. There are many challenges associated with the migration to near elemental digital beamforming like calibration, digital control, distribution of clocks, LO, power, processing the volume of data, and the physical size constraints of the electronics.

This whitepaper focuses on the physical size requirements for the electronics. The physical size requirements as a function of the operating frequency are discussed, and practical implementation methods are reviewed.