Sandia LabNews

Teaming with Rockwell Collins sends miniSAR soaring


“It’s like a long-distance relay race: we’re in it for the long haul and every member of the team covers a critical leg of the race.”

That’s how Sandia’s Director of Industrial Communications Jerry Langheim (5200) and Rockwell Collins’ Director of Business Alliances Steve Kennell characterize the newly expanded relationship between the two organizations. Jerry and Kennell are managers of the relationship.

Aerospace leader Rockwell Collins designs, produces, and supports communication and aviation electronics for commercial and government customers. The company delivers industry-leading surveillance solutions worldwide.

Rockwell Collins has announced that it will spend several million dollars over the next two years to turn Sandia-developed miniSAR technology into a product that can be deployed on a Shadow 200 tactical unmanned aerial vehicle. MiniSAR is a small- form-factor synthetic aperture radar system that can “see” through clouds and in the dark. (See “Synthetic Aperture Radar in a nutshell” at right.)

Sandia’s Defense Systems and Assessments Strategic Management Unit (DS&A SMU) has worked with Rockwell Collins for the past three years to identify a viable market opportunity for miniSAR. Rockwell is now ready to move forward.

“The miniature SAR product is targeted for use on both manned and unmanned vehicle platforms, to provide small, persistent surveillance, intelligence, and reconnaissance capability to the military,” says Ron Hornish, VP and General Manager of Sensor Systems for Rockwell Collins Government Systems. He adds that because of its compact size, the miniSAR product could free up payload spaced for additional communication systems and integrated systems products and services.

"Sandia’s strategic objectives include partnering with industry to transition advanced capabilities developed at the national labs to the end-user,” says Brett Remund (5340), Deputy Director, Microwave Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance. “This partnership with Rockwell Collins provides a strong and complementary match to achieve these objectives, bringing advanced radar remote sensing capability to the warfighter."

“I can’t overstate the importance of these kinds of strategic relationships,” says DS&A VP Jerry McDowell. “Sandia’s science, technology, and engineering can benefit the nation and our DoD customers through industrial alliances. We have great expectations for this alliance with Rockwell Collins. ”

Industrial alliances integrate strategy and teamwork

“One of the keys to management of this relationship is its joint Steering Committee,” says Jerry Langheim. Members from executive and technical communities of both Sandia and Rockwell Collins sit on this board and guide the direction taken by the alliance.”

Sandia has had an umbrella CRADA (Cooperative Research and Development Agreement) with Rockwell Collins in place for several years. The steering committee concept was implemented at the time of the first project, which was jointly funded by Rockwell, Sandia, and DOE.

Numerous team members have been involved in the process of discovery that has led to the identification of the miniSAR project as an ideal joint effort between Sandia and Rockwell. Sandia contributors to the successful establishment of this relationship include Michael Callahan (12300), Marion Scott (5600), David Williams (4500), Jay Jakubczak (1710), Kurt Sorensen (5345), George “Sandy” Sanzero (10116), Ann Adams (10116), and Sarah Low (10116).

In addition, Sandia and Rockwell Collins are collaborating on project/task statements in the following areas: human cognition, hypervelocity vehicle GPS (Prompt/Precision Global Strike), Chem/Bio, miniaturization, UMBRA modeling and simulation, and Anti-tamper. Rockwell Collins will also support future manufacturing needs for Monitoring Systems and Technology Center 5700.

“It takes teamwork to hand off the baton in a relay race and we believe that Sandia and Rockwell are uniquely suited to take miniSAR the distance together,” says Rockwell Collins relationship manager Steve Kennell.

“We share a vision and expect to see more from this alliance in the future,” says Jerry McDowell.