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SWaP challenges in the defence industry: How Smiths Interconnect rises to the challenge

The defence industry has exceptionally high connectivity demands, especially when it comes to size, weight and power (SWaP). Smiths Interconnect is an industry-leading provider of cutting-edge connectivity solutions to the defence sector for applications such as guidance systems, data links, manpack radios, radar systems (ground, air and shipboard), antenna systems and drones.

SWaP challenges in the defence industry: How Smiths Interconnect rises to the challenge
Smiths Interconnect has been supplying Microwave and RF Components to the F35 Program for over 20 years
Smiths Interconnect’s broad range of connectivity solutions are specifically designed and engineered to meet the SWaP challenges of customers, by reducing overall system volume, weight and installation time/cost through innovative packaging.

According to Harold Aikins, Global Product Line Director, RF Fiber Optics and RF Components at Smiths Interconnect: “Our customers tend to demand higher and higher frequency, and they want things as small as possible. In order to do that, we address the customer’s needs by developing products across our portfolio to be much smaller in size and able to handle more power. We develop the diamond resistivity products by increasing power handling capabilities in addition to reducing size. No one uses the diamond resistive like Smiths interconnect does”.
“Another major product is the Planar X filters, which are really reducing the size, specifically the height,” continues Aikins. “Traditionally, filters are the largest item on the PC board. Using printed filter technology, Smiths Interconnect can reduce size drastically with its Planar X Filters, whilst its ferrite range meets the demand for more power.”
While Smiths Interconnect supplies the defence industry with a broad range of connectivity solutions.

Resistive Components

Resistive Components

As the best thermal conductor on earth and with a low dielectric constant, diamond makes an excellent RF dielectric material for high-frequency applications, especially when thermal performance is critical. Utilizing a thin film process, Smiths Interconnect has created a high-performance line of diamond RF resistive terminations, attenuators, and resistors.

Planar X filters

RF Filters

Smiths Interconnect’s state-of-the-art RF Filters, including the Planar X filters range, are subject to rigorous design, manufacturing, and inspection criteria. The Planar X Series are board-level, ceramic-based RF Filters. Their small footprint, lightweight and surface mountable configuration make them ideal for high volume pick-and-place applications.

TSX Series Fixed Chip Attenuators

TSX Attenuators

The passive, surface mountable temperature variable attenuators require no bias or control and used in place of a standard chip attenuator to combine level setting/buffering and temperature compensation.

Surface Mount Isolator

Isolators & Circulators

Microstrip, Surface Mount & Stripline Components
Utilized for a range of defense and space applications using a variety of interfaces, Smiths’ ability to design and produce all types of microstrip, surface mount and stripline components allows them to provide expert advice to each customer on the best product for each application.


Ferrites and Waveguides

Ferrites and Waveguides

Smiths’ broad range of ferrite and waveguide products includes devices operating from 1.0 to 52.0GHz and includes isolators and circulators, combiners, transitions, and terminations. These products are designed for specific applications, such as the MW waveguide couplers, combiners, and splitters for defence radar applications.

 Coaxial Isolators

Coaxial Isolators

Smiths Interconnect has been manufacturing coaxial isolators for more than 40 years. These coaxial isolators and circulators are designed to operate in assigned bands from 300 MHz to 31 GHz, and are available for a wide range of applications, such the L-band high-power isolators and circulators, which are specifically designed for solid-state power amplifiers used for spacecraft communication, navigation, RadarSats and satellite payloads.


Lab-Flex Cables

Cables and Harnesses

High performance microwave cable assemblies and coaxial components supporting critical operations with application specific premium interconnects for high durability. Smiths Interconnect’s cables are available with customized option packages and are especially well-suited for precision testing applications and harsh environments in aircraft, marine, space and ground applications

LightCONEX active blind-mate optical interconnect system

Optical Transceivers

Smiths Interconnect rugged embedded transceivers offer bandwidth up to 300 Gbps in a chip-sized component. Designed for harsh environments including space, military, aerospace, and industrial applications, the transceivers provide high I/O density with low SWaP.


Smiths Interconnect and the defence industry
One of the most notable projects that highlights Smiths Interconnect’s microwave and RF components in the defence industry is the F-35 Lightning II, a single-engine multirole combat aircraft designed for superior air dominance, with electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.

Connectivity solutions for the F-35 aircraft include high power circulators used on communications and navigation systems, high reliability attenuators for radar systems and discrete filters located in the CNI avionic systems. Smiths has been involved in the programme for 20 years and counting, supplying hundreds of interconnect devices, from RF components and high-speed connectors to integrated microwave assemblies.