Expanding Capabilities for Signal and Electronic Intelligence

One year after acquiring Syntonic Microwave, Mercury Mixed Signal group’s Neal Austin and Jay Goodfriend join the MercuryNOW podcast to discuss how merging Syntonic’s domain expertise in flexible RF technology has supported Mercury’s position as a leading provider of high-performance, SWaP-optimized EW subsystems. Their expanded portfolio of frequency synthesizers, phase-coherent tuners and microwave frequency converters for signal and electronic intelligence applications now provides customers greater access to highly differentiated sensor processing capabilities.

Read the transcript.

Ralph Guevarez:

Hello and welcome to Mercury Now, a podcast series brought to you by Mercury Systems. I am your host, Ralph Guevarez and today’s topic: expanding capabilities for signal and electronic intelligence, with the acquisition of Syntonic Microwave. Joining me is Neal Austin, Vice President and General Manager of our mixed signal group, as well as Jay Goodfriend, Expert Product Manager, also from our mixed signal group at Mercury Systems. Neal, Jay, good day, and welcome to you both.

Neal Austin:

Hi Ralph. Thank you.` Appreciate you having us.

Jay Goodfriend:

Yeah thank you, Ralph.

Ralph Guevarez:

Could you please both give our listeners a brief background on your current role at Mercury. Neal, we’ll start with you.

Neal Austin:

Sure. I’ll be happy to Ralph. I’m the Vice President and General Manager of our mixed signal and RF tuner business out of Huntsville, Alabama and San Jose, California. And in the RF and microwave industry for more than 30 years, I’m sorry to say. And having enjoyed a career in engineering program management and sales prior to my general management role.

Ralph Guevarez:

Thank you, Neal. Jay?

Jay Goodfriend:

Oh, thanks. Yeah. So I’m Jay Goodfriend, former President of Syntonic Microwave, and I am currently the product manager for the portfolio of products that came over to Mercury Systems from Syntonic.

Ralph Guevarez:

Thank you, Jay. Neal, can you tell our listeners a bit more about Syntonic Microwave? When did Mercury acquire them and also some insights on their product portfolio, if you please.

Neal Austin:

Yeah, absolutely Ralph, be happy to. Syntonic Microwave was acquired by Mercury a little more than a year ago. Their product portfolio includes frequency synthesizers, phase coherent tuners, and microwave frequency converters for signals, intelligence and electronic intelligence applications. These are class leading synthesizers and tuners with incredible flexibility that cover frequency ranges from 100 megahertz up through 44 gigahertz where the emerging 5g, SIGINT ELINT threats with instantaneous bandwidth as wide as two gigahertz. I’m excited for you to learn more about that as Jay talks about the product line later. The systems and subsystems are designed in a modular fashion that allows for rapid adaptation and prototyping as well.

Ralph Guevarez:

Could you please expand on Syntonic’s product portfolio and how it compliments Mercury’s existing microwave tuner lineup, please?

Neal Austin:

So this was a very synergistic acquisition. Mercury is very well known for its electronic warfare family of tuners, covering the traditional frequencies, but we really didn’t have a footprint in the signal intelligence space. We didn’t have a footprint in the intelligence community and really we didn’t have a product portfolio outside of the embedded OpenVPX solutions. The company wide initiative supporting open standards is extremely important to us. We’ll continue to support OpenVPX and standards like SOSA. But the syntonic tuners are really aimed at different customers, different product platforms and different applications. So the two together create a real powerhouse. Perhaps, I’ll be bold enough to say, the broadest signal portfolio in the industry.

Ralph Guevarez:

I could see why Syntonic Microwave was such a good fit for Mercury. Thank you. Jay, let’s pick up on Neal’s point about Syntonic products being flexible in an unprecedented way. Can you expand on this and share with our listeners how this flexibility can be leveraged by our customers, please?

Jay Goodfriend:

One unique feature of these tuners is an architecture that enables great adaptability. What we mean by this is the ability to adapt to varying signals of interest on the fly. The tuners have enough versatility baked into the designs to allow a user to change bandwidths as signals of varying bandwidths present themselves. Imagine a user is attempting to collect and analyze signals that might be shifting in bandwidth from one gigahertz to 500 megahertz to two gigahertz. These tuners have the ability to adapt to these changes. Other tuners with locked in bandwidths might become overwhelmed by these changes and miss the opportunities of collection. And with a high cost of performing collections, a missed opportunity has real consequences.

Jay Goodfriend:

Oh, and one more thing. The adaptability also helps extend the life of the tuner. So when wider and wider bandwidths will be needed in the future, these adaptive tuners are ready for that too. The longer life translates into real value for the person investing in this equipment.

Ralph Guevarez:

Thank you, Jay. Neal, how would you say Mercury benefited from this introduction of technology?

Neal Austin:

And this really rounded out the mixed signal processing team’s product offering. And Syntonic had this incredible domain experience and flexible RF technology, and it supported expanding Mercury’s position as a leading provider of high-performance SWaP-optimized EW subsystems. The fundamental technology that Syntonic brought to Mercury along with the broad resources that we already had within Mercury for EW products, have allowed us to do some very interesting things that Jay will talk about in a couple of minutes. In addition, it also increased customer support with regards to SIGINT and ELINT while enabling us to better work in these markets with Mercury’s expanding portfolio. We believe part of this synergy is going to be giving customers in the SIGINT ELINT space, particularly in the IC community, access to products within Mercury’s portfolio that they never previously realized existed. Adding these products gave our customers greater access to highly differentiated sensor processing capabilities and ultimately advanced interest as a nation by better controlling the electromagnetic spectrum.

Ralph Guevarez:

Thank you, Neal. So Jay, now that these tuners and synthesizers are part of Mercury’s product family, what’s next? Give our listeners a glimpse into the future.

Jay Goodfriend:

We are always being pushed for better devices that are smaller, faster, and quieter. So keep your eyes open for continuing changes in that direction. As far as the tuners are concerned, we’re now just releasing this first small form factor SWaP tuner. This is planned as part of a family of small tactical tuners. So think of all that flexibility in our multi bandwidth, agile, IF tuners, but now in a small enough form factor to fit into a backpack.

Ralph Guevarez:

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you both for joining me today. I’m excited to see what’s next for team Huntsville and San Jose. I wish you both the best of luck moving forward. God speed with the mixed signal group and the sensor processing division at Mercury Systems. Thank you.

Jay Goodfriend:

Thanks so much.

Neal Austin:

Thank you very much.

Ralph Guevarez:

This has been another edition of Mercury Now. A podcast series brought to you by Mercury Systems. I am your host Ralph Guevarez signing off.