TriQuint Wins US Air Force Contract to Design and Fabricate GaN Modules for New Drone Aircraft

TriQuint Semiconductor has been awarded a contract by the US Air Force Research Laboratories (AFRL) to develop new Gallium Nitride (GaN) modules for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). AFRL says that the new GaN devices will extend the range and capabilities of UAVs that are used for reconnaissance missions over Afghanistan, Iraq and other regions. The AFRL expects that the more efficient GaN devices will also reduce the need for thermal management and extend battery life in each vehicle.

TriQuint noted that it will develop and fabricate new modules including 20 Watt and 50 Watt devices in-house. The program will reportedly require fitting new 20 Watt amplifiers into the same space now occupied by the fleet’s existing 1 Watt devices.

TriQuint Program Manager, Doug Cole commented, “The contract is particularly interesting since we need to increase the power of one device 20-fold without increasing the size. We’re using our proven 0.25-micron Gallium Nitride process since it offers excellent power density and ruggedness–key requirements for avionic applications.”

Phase I of the Air Force UAV program includes developing high-power GaN amplifier MMICs. During Phase II MMIC amplifiers and other components will be into single packages to provide 20 Watt and 50 Watt Ku-band power amplifiers. TriQuint plans to deliver the first amplifier MMIC by August 2010. The first 50 Watt prototype high power amplifier (HPA) will be delivered in April 2011.