Dr. Kris Merkel to speak at 55th Annual AOC International Symposium & Convention

Dr. Merkel is the President and CEO of S2 Corporation, who has done RDT&E work with the DoD for the past 15 years, via the Army, Navy, Air Force, DARPA, and IARPA. The focus has been on electronic support applications, and signal processing for radar, communications, PNT, and analog and data processing at high performance metrics that are otherwise prohibitive for conventional electronics. Dr. Merkel and team have advanced the TRL of the approach, and performed in several DoD field test, and are working for insertion and adoption of the wideband signal processing approaches for DoD applications. Dr. Merkel won the 2014 AOC award, the Jerry Sowell Radio Frequency Award, for EW research.

Speaking: November 27 - "Foundations of Battlespace Awareness"

Recent Award from National Spectrum Consortium

October 2, 2017

EMS Situational Awareness & Command & Control with Wideband Sensors & Data Analytics.

S2 Corporation recently received an award from the National Spectrum Consortium for contract NSC-16-1100, titled "EMS Situational Awareness & Command & Control with Wideband Sensors & Data Analytics" in the amount of $13,590,382.  

The objective of this effort is to meet the significant challenges of present and future military systems to fully capture and analyze in near real-time, broad segments of the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) to provide full EMS situational awareness to spectrum operators and command and control (C2) centers. This is accomplished using high performance broadband EMS sensors and powerful data analytics developed on this project to sense, monitor, and analyze a broad range of the EMS in real-time. The networked sensors will disseminate EMS situational awareness (thousands of full spectrum assessments per second with extensive data analytics) as real-time actionable information, allowing C2 centers, communication systems, Electronic Warfare (EW) systems, and other spectrum dependent systems to act, adapt, and respond rapidly and effectively to dynamic EMS environments.

Additional collaborators on this effort include BAE systems, CU Boulder, Montana State University, and NEID.

More information at:


S2 Corporation and MSU announce new contract for big data processing

June 21, 2017 -- MSU News Service

S2 Corporation, of Bozeman, and Montana State University’s Spectrum Lab, announce the award of a $1 million dollar, 12-month research contract from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency, IARPA, to develop an efficient, high-data rate photonic computational engine for 2-D image processing. Applications include virus detection in streaming digital data, key features search for computer vision, and queries in massive unindexed databases. 

The S2 processor-in-memory capability is analog and photonic based, using laser light to interact with a crystal, and falls within a new class of technology different from typical integrated circuits.  Microprocessors, microcontrollers, memory, and other digital logic circuits use complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor, CMOS, transistor architectures.  The S2 approach is of interest to IARPA’s Filtering and Selection Technology, FaST, program for its extremely high data rate and performance in wall power efficiency compared to the typical CMOS based approaches.

The new work builds on prior IARPA-funded efforts at S2 over the past two years, which propelled early S2 capability for real-time streaming data search by 10,000-fold; up to high single line rates of 200 gigabits per second and, very importantly, with a simultaneous 100-fold reduction in power relative to state-of-the-art digital supercomputers.  The prior work, soon to be published in Applied Optics, established plausibility of real-time, key feature identification in streaming data and large unindexed databases, and circumnavigates the otherwise insurmountable memory latency delays and associated energy cost penalties when using conventional CMOS processors.  The prior work completed in 2016 also demonstrated the plausible potential for further scaling of S2 capability to an extraordinary 10 terabits per second throughput for data processing, by advanced engineering efforts. 

The new work, started in March 2017, includes a subcontract to Montana State University. 

The S2 team is pursuing this area to address the global challenges of processing increasingly massive data in real time and with energy efficiency. 

“The interest is there,” said Kris Merkel, CEO of S2 Corporation, “and we are working to advance the power of S2 technology to meet strategic global needs that currently outpace the capability of conventional electronics.” 

Zeb Barber, director of Spectrum Lab at MSU, said, “The fundamental research at MSU allows opportunities for faculty and students to advance the state-of-art in new realms of physics-based algorithms and applications, and to work on cutting-edge technology alongside industry.”  

IARPA recognized the potential of S2 technology several years ago, and encouraged this new direction of research.  

“S2 technology provides a near instantaneous Fourier transform of streaming data, storing the vast spectral components as microscopic holograms inside a cold crystal, and permitting real-time multiplication of data at unprecedented clock rates and power-efficiency.  Dot-product-engines of this kind possess immense significance to science and engineering.  If successful, and the challenge remains high, it is difficult to overstate the significance of a potential breakthrough in streaming 2D imagery analysis for computer vision,” said Karl Roenigk, IARPA program manager.

Contact: Kris Merkel, president and CEO, S2 Corporation, (406) 922-0334, merkel@s2corporation.com; Zeb Barber, director of MSU's Spectrum Lab, (406) 994-5925, barber@spectrum.montana.edu

Related Articles


MAY 3, 2017

Senator: Montana Small Businesses are Bringing Cutting Edge Inventions to the Table

(U.S. Senate) - U.S. Senator Jon Tester today highlighted Montana small businesses and their work to keep Americans safe and create high-paying jobs. 

During a Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, Tester emphasized to top Pentagon officials the innovative work Montana small businesses are doing to enhance all branches of the military and support members of the Armed Forces. Tester has used his seat on the Appropriations Committee to secure funding each year for Defense Department grants that Montana small businesses use to hire workers and provide critical equipment and services to the Armed Forces.

"Robust defense research funding ensures that we provide the brave men and women serving our nation with the best possible tools to accomplish their mission and to keep them safe," Tester said. "Montana entrepreneurs and small businesses are often on the forefront of technology, and they bring fresh ideas and cutting edge inventions to the table. I know this is true in Montana."

Tester plans to vote for a federal budget this week that makes strong investments in defense research. Many Montana businesses will receive a portion of these funds to provide research, equipment, and services to the military.

Tester listed some of the important contributions that Montana small businesses are already making to America's service members during the hearing. Tester specifically emphasized the work of Polson's Adelos Inc. that develops fiber-optic sensors, Bozeman's S2 Corporation that analyzes spectrum communication around the world, and Bozeman's Mystery Ranch that manufactures backpacks for members of the Armed Forces. Adelos was recently awarded a Rapid Innovation Fund contract from the U.S. Air Force to provide a cost-effective solution for securing the perimeters of Intercontinental Ballistic Missile launch facilities.

"Our small, innovative, Montana-based startup has developed a passive fiber optic sensing system that is capable of detecting, classifying, and localizing surface, underground, and airborne threats," said Scott Colton, CEO of Adelos, Inc. "Sen. Tester has been a strong and consistent advocate for small businesses in Montana making it possible for companies like Adelos to provide the Department of Defense with innovative solutions that help them meet their mission needs."

"At a time when security threats are increasing across the globe, S2 Corporation is hiring Montanans to develop dynamic technologies that detect and geolocate the radio frequency emissions for communication and radar of our adversaries, across the entire spectrum simultaneously," said Kris Merkel, CEO of S2 Corporation in Bozeman. "Thanks to Senator Tester, we have been able to secure and extend several important competitive federal contracts that help keep this country safe and create more high-tech jobs right here in Montana."

"As a member of the Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition, Mystery Ranch has provided America's service members with critical equipment that is built for their specific mission," said Dana Gleason, CEO of Mystery Ranch. "These resources are critical to Mystery Ranch and help us create more jobs right here in Bozeman. We want to thank Senator Tester for his continued support for our troops and the Montana small businesses who equip them."

Tester has been celebrating National Small Business Week by taking actions each day to help Montana small business grow and create more jobs.

On Monday, Tester sent a letter to the Trump Administration to help Montana's small-scale gun manufacturers better compete and sell products across the world.

On Tuesday, Tester sponsored legislation to cut taxes for Montana's small breweries and distilleries.

The hearing was on "A Review Defense Innovation & Research Funding" May 3, 2017.

The Honorable Robert O. Work
Deputy Secretary Of Defense

Dr. William B. Roper, Jr.
Strategic Capabilities Office

Dr. Steven H. Walker
Acting Director
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency


Additional information:




Mountains & Minds:

With Laser Intensity by Anne Cantrell • Published 10/12/11

Optics community rooted at MSU drives local industry and is recognized globally

In a secure laboratory located just south of the Montana State University campus, one small company is developing technology with implications that stretch far beyond the farmland and snow-covered mountains visible from its windows.

S2 Corporation is developing a sophisticated system that uses antennas, lasers and crystals to track and locate radio frequencies--including communications, radar, and other transient signal burst, some of which can be used to set off roadside bombs that kill U.S. soldiers and civilians. Kris Merkel, president and chief executive officer of S2, calls the technology "a game changer" that has immediate applications in defense, homeland security and, eventually, commercial markets.

By beaming a laser at the small crystal, the light the crystal absorbs actually becomes meaningful data, Merkel said. Modulating radio waves on a laser then enable the crystal to analyze and process enormous portions of the radio spectrum simultaneously. Some of the data could provide extraordinarily useful information to aid the U.S. military's goal of controlling the radio frequency spectrum during a conflict.

The work at S2 Corporation, and other companies in the area like it, is closely linked to MSU. In this case, much of the intellectual property that S2 Corporation uses was pioneered by researchers from the MSU physics department and the Spectrum Lab, with more than 14 patents either co-developed with or licensed from MSU, according to Merkel.

That kind of relationship exists because more than 15 years ago, university leaders saw opportunities in lasers and optics, so they designed a program to strengthen MSU's offerings in the area. Since then, faculty members, students and alumni from several MSU departments have been contributing important research and technologies to the growing field. In the process, they're developing technologies that have the potential to make the world a better place. And, they are creating high-paying jobs and industry in Montana State's backyard--leading the way to a new future for MSU graduates and the Gallatin Valley.


Since the first working laser was introduced in 1960, lasers have been steadily increasing in use and scope around the world. Still, their applications are often taken for granted.

Yet, lasers are everywhere. Lasers are used at grocery stores to scan bar codes. In classrooms and theaters, laser technology in DVDs and Blu-ray discs brings educational tools and entertainment to the masses. Welders use lasers to fuse pieces of metal. Lasers enable communication at the speed of light. They transform stadiums into high-energy, pulsing light shows. They have revolutionized eye surgery, enabling imperfect vision to be corrected.

Most people understand that lasers involve light. But, laser light is different in three ways from the natural light that humans are accustomed to seeing. First, natural light--such as sunlight--is composed of many different colors. Laser light contains only one color, or wavelength, at a time. That one color can be visible as red or blue or green, or it can be a color with wavelengths humans cannot see. Also, the wavelengths hit their highs and lows in sync, in contrast to the waves of natural light, which oscillate with their peaks occurring randomly. Finally, laser light waves all travel more parallel to each other, in the same direction, than a typical light beam. As a result, laser light beams are narrow and can be concentrated in one small spot by focusing with a lens.

Because laser lights have these characteristics, they are able to produce small points of intense power. This focused power makes it possible to control laser light for a variety of purposes.

MSU's laser optics program grew out of both need and opportunity.

In the early '80s, faculty members in physics and other related fields recognized that their students had few job prospects in Montana after graduation. In fact, the situation was so bleak it was almost a foregone conclusion that graduates would have to leave the state in order to find work, said longtime physics faculty member John Carlsten.

To combat the problem, Carlsten began collaborating with ILX Lightwave, a local company that had recently begun operating in the area, while faculty member Rufus Cone began collaboration with Scientific Materials Corp. John Stover, a former MSU electrical engineering professor, helped found TMA Associates, and he and Fred Cady, another electrical engineering faculty member, began a company-MSU collaboration.

Bob Swenson, then MSU's vice president of research and Gary Strobel, then head of Montana Experimental Program for Stimulating Competitive Research (EPSCoR), encouraged Carlsten, Cone, Cady and Lee Spangler to write a proposal to the National Science Foundation for funds to build a significant program in laser optics at MSU through strategic hiring.

"Gary and Bob thought the university could think bigger. They took my vision of interacting with one business and expanded it much further," Carlsten said.

The result was the Optical Technology Center, or OpTeC, started in 1995 with Carlsten at its helm. The interdisciplinary research and education center promotes education, research and jobs in Montana, particularly in the area of optical science and engineering.

Soon after OpTeC's inception, Carlsten and other faculty and members of the community began a series of annual meetings focused on optical technology where people shared their research and ideas. Enthusiasm quickly spread, Carlsten said.

When OpTec began, MSU had just four faculty in laser optics. Today, there are 24, primarily in the departments of electrical and computer engineering, physics, chemistry and biochemistry, and mathematical sciences. OpTeC faculty have won significant awards nationally and internationally. Among other distinctions, they are recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award given by the White House and fellows of the Optical Society of America, the American Physical Society and the International Society of Optics and Photonics.


Just as OpTeC was getting its start, a few companies related to the laser optics industry popped up in Bozeman.

One was Scientific Materials, a company started by Ralph Hutcheson, a 1954 Montana State mechanical engineering graduate and native of Havre. Hutcheson had worked in industrial centers in California, Indiana and other states.

"We needed people who had technical skills to provide information associated with what we were trying to achieve," Hutcheson said. "The only place we could get that was from a university."

Possible locations in Oregon, Washington and Montana fizzled, so Hutcheson settled on Bozeman as the best spot to launch Scientific Materials. The company, which came to the valley in 1989, eventually became known around the world for growing high-quality crystals for use in laser technology. They are the same crystals that S2 Corporation uses. In fact, S2 Corporation spun out of MSU's Spectrum Lab in 2004 as a division of Scientific Materials and then spun off of Scientific Materials as a separate company when Hutcheson retired and sold the enterprise in 2005.

Opportunities for both MSU students and local companies have grown over the years.

Since the first optics company came to Bozeman in 1980, 32 optics-related companies have formed in the area, with 27 of them still operating in the Gallatin Valley. MSU graduates started 15 of the 32 companies. Those numbers equal significant job creation and a more diversified economy in the Gallatin Valley, said Joe Shaw, an electrical and computer engineering professor at MSU and the current director of OpTeC.

The numbers also give Bozeman the distinction of being home to twice the number of optics companies per capita as Tucson, Ariz., which is widely regarded as a major center of the optical industry, Shaw said.

In addition, the number of collaborations between local companies and MSU is growing. In 1993, there were three collaborative relationships. Ten years later, the number had jumped to seven. This year, there are at least 16 university-industry collaborations in lasers and optics.

Part of the numbers also can be attributed to the Spectrum Lab, which was established in 1999 to act as a bridge between MSU-grown optics technology and industry, as well as to give MSU students an opportunity to work on technology as it transitions from science to products. The lab collaborates with several companies in Bozeman, including S2 Corporation and Bridger Photonics, which both spun out of research developed in the lab. The lab also has trained many of the scientists who are now working in industries in Bozeman, according to Merkel.

Now, many in the field say Bozeman is recognized around the globe for its pioneering and wide-ranging work in optics.

"This area is internationally regarded as a very strong center for optics and optical companies," Carlsten said. "That might surprise a lot of people."

A past president of the Optical Society of America and retired administrator at the University of Arizona agreed.

"The group at Montana State is probably the best laser optics group anywhere for the size they are," said Richard Powell, who was on the faculty at UA before becoming dean of its College of Optical Sciences and, later, vice president of research. As president of the Optical Society of America, Powell also frequently traveled around the world, visiting numerous optics programs.

"MSU [optics faculty] could work professionally anywhere in the world they want to," he said. "They're that good."

In addition, the optics companies are a huge boon to the area, said Tom McCoy, MSU vice president for research.

"This is a very lucrative part of the economy in the valley," McCoy said. "The companies provide good paying jobs in a wonderful environment. And, they produce clean, high-quality products while generating taxes and further stimulating the economy.

"Any investment is far surpassed by the economic return," he added.


Bridger Photonics, one high-tech company run by MSU graduates, is making its home in the same building that houses S2 Corporation.

"For one of our projects, we're working with the (U.S.) Navy," said Pete Roos, one of Bridger Photonics' founders and owners.

Bridger Photonics is developing a technology that would allow Navy pilots to see farther and more quickly through clouds of sand and dust that are whipped up by helicopter blades. Because of the dust and sand, pilots can't see cables, people and other things on the ground, leading to helicopter crashes.

The optical remote sensing technology, known as ladar, or laser detection and ranging, predicts the distance from one spot to the next by using pulses from a laser and illuminating the target with light.

It's just one of thousands of examples of technologies possible because of lasers. But, even 20 years ago, without OpTeC and the resulting cluster of skilled laser physicists and engineers, it would have been nearly impossible for Bridger Photonics to survive in Bozeman.

"We can't imagine being here without the university," Roos said.

That's because Bridger Photonics collaborates on projects with MSU and shares equipment on these projects that would otherwise require a large investment. More importantly, more than 80 percent of Bridger Photonics' non-administrative employees are MSU graduates.

"We want to find--and retain--the best people at MSU to work here," Roos said. An MSU grad himself, Roos understands both the challenges and the allure of cultivating a career in Bozeman.

After earning a doctorate in physics from MSU in 2002, Roos moved to Colorado to work for the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado. But, Roos and his wife wanted to raise their family in the Gallatin Valley, so they moved back in 2005.

Soon, Roos and two other MSU graduates, Randy Reibel and Jay Brasseur, submitted three proposals to federal agencies for funding for a new company. Two were granted, and in 2007, Bridger Photonics was born.

In just three years, by 2010, the dynamic company had annual revenues totaling about $2 million. By 2011, it had hired its 17th employee.


From tracking radio frequencies, to enabling Navy pilots to see farther through a cloud of sand and dust, to locating invasive lake trout in Yellowstone Lake to detecting cancer, technologies developed in Bozeman and at MSU are solving problems around the world.

The examples are numerous:

An MSU-patented technique at NWB Sensors is used to calibrate ultra-compact thermal cameras. Applications range from locating wolves or other animals to advanced military surveillance.

A technology developed by Bridger Photonics and MSU may one day allow law enforcement officers to detect meth labs without putting themselves at risk. At the heart of the sensor is a tiny laser--just the size of a pinky finger--constructed from parts made by Scientific Materials, a division of FLIR Systems, Inc.

And Big Sky Laser Technologies, which is now known as Quantel USA, developed a technology to safely clean artifacts in museums. By using heat and color variations, lasers removed dust and other particles resting on valuable--yet fragile--pieces of art.

These and other examples are likely just the start. As OpTeC has taken off and the laser optics industry in the Gallatin Valley has blossomed, individuals who have been part of it from the very beginning predict that more growth is in store.

"I've just been standing back and watching in awe," Carlsten said. "It's grown so much more than I ever dreamt about in my wildest dreams. I imagine things will continue and get even better." ■

12-company $800 million Navy project seeks to share radar, EW, and communications antennas

April 26, 2016

By John Keller 

ARLINGTON, Va., 26 April 2016. Twelve U.S. technology companies are carrying out a 5-year potential $800 million U.S. Navy research project to develop new kinds of antennas that communications, radar, and electronic warfare (EW)systems can share.

Officials of the Office of Naval Research on Monday chose the 12 companies to participate in the Electromagnetic Command and Control (EMC2) program that seeks close integration of disparate RF system electronics and antennas to reduce costs and RF interference.

The idea is to reduce the number of RF and microwave antennas on ships, aircraft, ground vehicles, and land sites to mitigate the effects of RF interference, as well as reducing the costs of military systems that use radio waves.

The companies selected for the (EMC2) are:

the Lockheed Martin Corp. Mission Systems and Training segment in Moorestown, N.J.;
ArgonST, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Boeing Co. in Fairfax, Va.;
the Northrop Grumman Corp. Mission Systems segment in Linthicum, Md.;
the Raytheon Co. Integrated Defense Systems Advanced Technology Programs segment in Tewksbury, Mass.;
EOIR Technologies Inc. in King George, Va.;
SI2 Technologies Inc. in North Billerica, Mass.;
S2 Corp. in Bozeman, Mont.;
Sea Corp. in Middletown, R.I.;
Leidos in Arlington, Va.;
Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa;
Physical Optics Corp. (POC) in Torrance, Calif.; and
TiCom Inc. in Austin, Texas.

Navy researchers seek to tame the electromagnetic interference beast plaguing shipboard electronics

April 26, 2016

By John Keller 

THE MIL & AERO COMMENTARY, 26 April 2016. 

Navy surface warships aren't just maneuverable steel islands bristling with weapons; they're complex electromagnetic transmitters and receivers driving applications like radar, combat data links, electronic warfare (EW), and communications systems. Ships also are nests of electromagnetic interference.

Take a look at one of today's Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and you'll see a dense forest of antennas of virtually every size and description, covering the electromagnetic spectrum from high frequency (HF) to extremely high frequency (EHF), and beyond.

The problem with almost any radio frequency (RF) antenna is it doesn't exist in isolation; its RF emissions can influence anything nearby that can transmit or receive a signal.

Now take another look at those densely packed shipboard antennas and you'll appreciate the potential problems of noise and static they can cause for one another in what experts call co-site interference.

It boils down to a monumental headache for Navy program managers, ship designers, antenna makers, and anyone else responsible for any kind of RF and microwave system that goes aboard Navy ships, or the fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that operate from Navy ships.

Anything that transmits or receives RF energy that goes aboard ship must be compatible with everything else that does the same. Need to add a new RF system or upgrade an existing one? Good luck. Without painstaking test and evaluation, the potential is great for any new transmitter to cause big and unanticipated problems for those already there.

RF and microwave scientists at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in Arlington, Va., have been at the forefront of the battle to eliminate or mitigate the problem of shipboard co-site interference.

Among ONR's first major attempts to come to grips with this troublesome problem was the Integrated Topside (InTop) program, which involved many of the nation's largest military RF and microwave companies to develop a scalable suite of electronic warfare, information systems, and line-of-sight communications for naval surface warships.

InTop sought to use open-systems architectures to reduce the number of topside antenna apertures, increase bandwidth, and resolve electromagnetic interference and compatibility issues caused by the large number of shipboard antennas.

Now ONR experts have launched a follow-on initiative to InTop called the Electromagnetic Command and Control (EMC2) program, which will pick up where InTop left off in developing close integration of disparate RF system electronics and antennas to reduce costs and RF interference.

ONR on Monday named 12 defense contractors to work on the 5-year potential $800 million EMC2 program: Lockheed Martin; ArgonST; Northrop Grumman; Raytheon; EOIR Technologies; SI2 Technologies; S2 Corp.; Sea Corp.; Leidos; Rockwell Collins; and TiCom.

The goal of ONR's EMC2 program is to reduce the number of RF and microwave antennas on ships, aircraft, ground vehicles, and land sites to mitigate the effects of RF interference, as well as reduce the costs of military systems that use radio waves.

Although similar to InTop, the EMC2 program seeks to take the next step by developing prototypes that integrate the RF functionality of EW, radar, communications, and information operations into a common set of open-systems antennas, electronics, and software.

The program represents a major departure from the common practice of developing stand-alone RF and microwave systems that each require a separate antenna, which wastes money and space, and threatens co-site interference.

Prototypes should be able to provide several simultaneous and independent RF and microwave beams that can work together to perform EW, radar, communications, and wireless information exchange. Researchers want to integrate these new prototypes with InTop or other RF combat systems.

With EMC2, ONR researchers want the ability to monitor the RF spectrum across a wide range of frequencies and reallocate functions to the best frequency in response to changes in the electromagnetic environment for intelligence gathering, cyber warfare, command and control, EW, situational awareness, and battle management.

Not only will technologies developed in the EMC2 program apply to new ship classes and aircraft, but also should be able to migrate into existing shipboard RF and microwave systems like the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP).

With programs like InTop and EMC2, it sounds like ONR experts are well along in taming the co-site interference beast.

S2 Corporation and MSU jointly announce contract to provide wideband sensor capability to U.S. Navy

March 23, 2016 -- MSU News Service

BOZEMAN ― S2 Corporation and partner Montana State University’s Spectrum Lab have received a $4.5 million, three-year subcontract from BAE Systems of Nashua, New Hampshire, to develop a next-generation electronic warfare technology demonstrator for the Office of Naval Research.

The technology is a radio frequency sensing and signal processing solution that will quickly detect, locate and identify radio frequency transmitters. Known as the Full-Spectrum Staring Receiver, FSSR, the technology enables near-instantaneous battlespace situational awareness, emitter tracking, threat warning and countermeasure cueing. Conventional threat warning systems are not able to deliver the high level of coverage and responsiveness that FSSR will provide.

S2 Corporation has been awarded a subcontract for $4.5 million over the next three years, and will be subcontracting to its partner, MSU, for $763,000. For this effort, S2 Corporation and MSU bring their wideband sensor expertise, and leverage proprietary photonic crystal signal processing technology to perform extreme wideband radio frequency spectrum analysis, direction finding and event cueing. The system is called the Extreme Bandwidth Analyzer and Correlator, EBAC.

“This is a great example of MSU-developed technology transferring to local private industry and making an impact to the nation’s defense capabilities,” said Zeb Barber, director of the university’s Spectrum Lab, a research center working across physics and engineering to advance research, training and technology development.

With the FSSR capability and the EBAC at the core, U.S. Navy ships will be constantly aware of threat emitters over a very broad span of the electromagnetic spectrum. This effort is part of the ONR’s Electronic Warfare Discovery and Invention Program, which seeks to develop and demonstrate a broad range of next-generation electronic warfare systems that exploit, deceive or deny enemy use of the electromagnetic spectrum while ensuring the spectrum’s unfettered use by friendly forces.

“I am particularly excited by this research effort, because it integrates a number of electronic warfare technologies that have been advanced by ONR-funded efforts dating back to 2008,” said Peter Craig, electronic warfare program officer for ONR. “Even more gratifying is that it brings together the talents of researchers from academia, industry and the government in a coordinated effort that will benefit not only the Navy but the entire Department of Defense community.”

In addition to S2 Corporation and MSU, other members of BAE Systems’ FSSR team include University of Colorado Boulder, Purdue University, HRL Laboratories and the Naval Research Laboratory.

Contact: Kris Merkel, president and CEO, S2 Corporation, (406) 922-0334, merkel@s2corporation.com; Zeb Barber, director of MSU's Spectrum Lab, (406) 994-5925, barber@spectrum.montana.edu 

Navy Awards BAE Next-Gen Electronic Warfare Contract

A BAE-led team has been awarded an $11 million Navy contract to develop next-generation electronic warfare systems.

The contract, with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), calls for BAE to develop the Full-Spectrum Staring Receiver (FSSR). "This technology will enable near-instantaneous battlespace situational awareness, emitter identification and tracking, threat warning and countermeasure and weapon cueing," said a BAE news release.

FSSR is part of ONR’s Electronic Warfare Discovery & Invention Program, which seeks to develop a range of next-generation electronic warfare systems. The BAE team also includes S2 Corporation, University of Colorado Boulder, Montana State University, Purdue University, HRL Laboratories and the Naval Research Laboratory.

BAE Systems to Provide Ultra Wideband Sensor Capability to U.S. Navy

MERRIMACK, New Hampshire ― The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has awarded BAE Systems an $11 million contract to develop next-generation electronic warfare (EW) technology that will quickly detect, locate, and identify sources of radio frequency signals. Known as the Full-Spectrum Staring Receiver (FSSR), this technology will enable near-instantaneous battlespace situational awareness, emitter tracking, threat warning, and countermeasure cueing. Conventional threat warning systems are not able to deliver the high level of coverage and responsiveness that FSSR will provide.   

“The program integrates a complementary array of innovative technologies into a comprehensive capability that addresses a critical need for full spectrum awareness, ensuring the Navy's ships and aircraft are best prepared for future missions,” said Steve Hedges, FSSR principal investigator at BAE Systems. “By subjecting the receiver to realistic, complex electromagnetic environments, we can demonstrate how these discrete innovations combine to enable an effective EW system capability.”   

With the FSSR capability, U.S. Navy ships will be constantly aware of threat emitters over a very broad span of the electromagnetic spectrum. This effort is part the ONR’s Electronic Warfare Discovery & Invention Program, which seeks to develop and demonstrate a broad range of next-generation EW systems that exploit, deceive, or deny enemy use of the electromagnetic spectrum while ensuring their unfettered use by friendly forces. As the prime contractor on FSSR, BAE Systems brings EW system domain expertise, threat characterization and identification processing, and system design and integration knowledge.  

“I am particularly excited by this research effort, because it integrates a number of electronic warfare technologies that have been advanced by ONR-funded efforts dating back to 2008,” said Dr. Peter Craig, electronic warfare program officer for ONR. “Even more gratifying is that it brings together the talents of researchers from academia, industry, and the government in a coordinated effort that will benefit not only the Navy but the entire Department of Defense community.”  

Other members of BAE Systems’ FSSR team include the S2 Corporation, University of Colorado Boulder, Montana State University, Purdue University, HRL Laboratories, and the Naval Research Laboratory.  

For further information, please contact:

Liz Ryan Sax, BAE Systems

Mobile: 973-567-2105


S2 Invests Cumulative $5 Million at Montana State University

S2 Corporation has invested in research at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT, which has involved over $5 million invested, and has led to much of the technology in holographic crystals. For the full article (featured both in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and the MSU Website), and information on S2 sponsored research at MSU, click the link below. 

S2 CEO Receives Electronic Warfare Development Award


Citation reads:

"Dr. Merkel has committed 15 years to advancing wideband spectrum monitoring technology, with 2013 representing huge strides in reaching 20 GHz full instantaneous bandwidth, with >63 dB dynamic range spur free and 500,000,000 frequencies per second, and 4 field tests showing capability in tactical spectrum sensing and many advanced functionalities in direction finding and signal identification."


S2 Featured in Laser Physics 2014

S2's publication on Spectral Holeburning Memory was recently published in Laser Physics 2014. The abstract, authored by S2 faculty, reports

 Many storage and processing systems based on spectral holeburning have been proposed that access the broad bandwidth and high dynamic range of spatial-spectral materials, but only recently have practical systems been developed that rival the performance and capabilities of electronic devices. This paper reviews the history of the proposed applications of spectral holeburning and spatial-spectral materials from frequency domain optical memory to microwave photonic signal processing systems. The recent results of a 20 GHz bandwidth high performance spectrum monitoring system with the additional capability of broadband direction finding demonstrate the potential for spatial-spectral systems to be the practical choice for solving demanding signal processing problems in the near future.

S2 Presents at NWRCS

S2's Kris Merkel recently presented at the National Wireless Research Collaborating Symposium, on the company's testing of their 10 GHz Instantaneous Bandwidth Spectrum Monitoring, which took place at Idaho National Labs. Markel explains: "S2 Corporation tested its wideband RF spectrum monitor at Idaho National Labs (INL) in December 2013. Rich RF spectrum data was collected over 0.5-10 GHz with 250,000,000 unique frequencies per second, with a resolution bandwidth below 0.1 MHz and full spectrum frame rate of at least 2,000 frames per second. Wireless signals at INL were controlled during captures, and concurrently an FCC Special Transmit Authority (STA) allowed transmission in frequency hopping signals across the 10 GHz bandwidth for calibration and added signal environment."

S2 Paper Presented at GOMAC 2014

S2's publication titled "20 GHz Instantaneous Bandwidth RF Spectrum Analyzer Measurements with High Sensitivity and Spur Free Dynamic Range" was recently presented at the GOMAC 2014 conference. The following describes the papers findings:

The paradigm of operations for radio frequency (RF) monitoring is rapidly moving towards “wideband sense and react”, given the proliferation of transmitters for radar and communication systems operating over more of the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS). A significant challenge for present and future military and commercial systems is to analyze signals over a wide bandwidth, out to 120 GHz, in real time without any scanning in frequency, and without any prior knowledge of the signals, carrier frequency, or modulation format. For spectrum monitoring (SM), a receiver system must have a high spur free dynamic range (SFDR), so that the small signals of interest (SOI) are not mistaken for the false signals – spurs – that are generated by large signals, such as other SOIs, co-site interference, or jammers. The system should have fast update rates for tracking signals with fast pulse repletion frequency (PRF), with changing PRFs and wide bandwidth to handle frequency hops, and low latency to cue other systems or countermeasures. Such a system should also have high RF sensitivity. Typical high sensitivity measurement systems “choke down” the bandwidth to get a lower noise floor, which can approach the thermal noise floor limit of -174 dBm/Hz, less the noise figure (NF) of the system. Typical narrow band measurement techniques use superheterodyne detection at a fixed frequency and resolution bandwidth (RBW). For wideband coverage the local oscillator (LO) tunes across the desired bandwidth dwelling on each frequency sequentially [1]. Modern digital spectrum analyzers use digitizers and Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) processing to enable higher instantaneous bandwidth measurements limited by mainly the digitizer performance [2]. In comparison, our spectral sensing system remains fully open to the entire bandwidth of interest, presently over 20 GHz and readily extendable to >100 GHz, operates with high sensitivity, high SFDR and generates 400,000,000 unique frequency measurements per second. 

S2 System featured in ONR Innovation Newsletter

Dr. Peter Craig, Electronic Warfare ONR312 Program manager writes in the Fall 2012 ONR Innovaiton Newsletter: 

"The S2 system “creates a super-vision of the EMS where such signal techniques as frequency hopping, chirping, or spectrum spreading become visible as patterns in a real-time frequency map… This ONR investment has resulted in a system that can simultaneously monitor all EMS emissions over a span of 40 GHz while resolving signals that are separated by only a few 10s of kilohertz – and continuing research will increase this span to greater than 100 GHz.”