The Military Is Important (Again)

Military electronics is once again an important component of high-frequency business. News about the conflict in Iraq dominates broadcast airwaves and newsprint, as Coalition forces push for a speedy end to the war. This conflict is similar to the earlier Desert Storm, with our troops braving a hostile environment (sandstorms, heat) as well as the enemy. The technology is improved, however, from the earlier conflict, with enhanced Patriot missiles, for example, demonstrating far more effectiveness in neutralizing enemy Scud missiles now than in Desert Storm.

Unfortunately, war is not without loss, no matter how effective the technology. If war is inevitable (until human nature undergoes a fundamental change for the better), then investments in military technology can at least help to minimize loss of life and, hopefully, speed the resolution of a conflict. Of course, a pacifist would argue that more effective military technologies could also make the taking of life more efficient. But most military strategists and officers will admit that most military campaigns try to define and "neutralize" key targets, such as weapons storage facilities and communications installations, rather than targeting personnel.

The RF/microwave industry has long been synonymous with military electronics, given the industry's early roots in radar research and the MIT/Radiation Labs of World War II. Over the last decade, the industry has continued to improve the basic active and passive component technologies that contribute to the sensitivity of radar warning receivers (RWRs), the resolution of tracking radars, and the effectiveness of electronic-warfare (EW) systems. Even with the "distraction" of cellular communications and other alluring wireless markets during the decade of the 1990s, a solid core of microwave companies continued to support military electronics technologies in order to provide the US and her allies with strategic technological advantages.

For these companies, the Military Electronics Show (MES) was started almost three years ago, to provide a meeting place for engineers involved in military electronics of all forms, from amplifiers and computers to software and test equipment. Scheduled for September 16-17, 2003 in the Baltimore Convention Center (Baltimore, MD), the technical conference is co-sponsored this year by the IEEE's Aerospace and Electronics Systems Society. Some of the philosophy behind the event can be found at the MES website (; in essence, the show serves as a forum for design engineers to share the challenges they have faced and solutions they have found in working for military customers.

For the sake of our troops, we hope for a rapid conclusion to the Iraq war. For its part, the microwave industry continues to advance many of the key technologies that will give our troops an unbeatable edge.

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