News story

Detecting radio-frequency emissions more accurately

Case study from Plextek who pitched their ideas to industry and investors at the CDE Marketplace on 27 April 2016.

A F2 Typhoon takes off from RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire creating a heat haze that stretches across the runway.

Plextek has tested a way to locate radio-frequency (RF) emissions with a high degree of accuracy.

With Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) funding, the company has developed an algorithm to analyse compressed RF samples from multiple antennas. This will determine the frequency and bearing of an RF emitter.

The algorithm doesn’t rely on knowledge of the signal to be detected, instead it looks for the presence of energy at a particular frequency within a time window. It can then report the angle of arrival at a much better rate than the frequency required by conventional receiver architectures. It can therefore maximise the likelihood of detecting previously unknown threats.

As part of the testing, real-world emitter data was captured covering a variety of RF emitter sources. These included cellular (2G, 3G) and radar (pulsed Air Traffic Control and frequency-modulated continuous-wave ground surveillance).

Plextek seeks to build on the knowledge gained from this project to develop a lightweight, modular capable demonstrator, which has the potential to capture real-time RF emitter sources.

Plextek intends to couple the demonstrator with a narrow-band receiver to replicate a possible usage configuration for more detailed analysis.

Peter Doig, Plextek Business Development Consultant said:

We’re pleased to have continued our successful relationship with CDE, securing 6 projects across 4 themed competitions in 2015. This has led to Plextek’s wider collaboration within Dstl and MOD, the UK Defence Solutions Centre, and across the defence supply chain.

Plextek, based in Great Chesterford, has been at the forefront of business and product innovation since 1989 and currently employs 70 staff.

View the pitch presentation slides.

About CDE

CDE funds novel, high-risk, high-potential-benefit research. We work with the broadest possible range of science and technology providers, including academia and small companies, to develop cost-effective capabilities for UK armed forces and national security.

CDE is part of Dstl.

Centre for Defence Enterprise

Building R103
Fermi Avenue

Harwell Oxford
OX11 0QX

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Published 20 April 2016