by Doug Jorgesen, Ph.D., Business Development Manager – Marki Microwave
MPD: The defense market for RF and microwave components through subsystems appears to be more lucrative than in recent years, especially in the area of electronic warfare. If your company sells into the defense market, what are your thoughts about how it will perform in 2017?
Most of the funds for programs that were delayed during the sequestration years have been released. Defense will remain healthy, but not as strong as in 2016. Going forward, I expect that the increased emphasis on near-peer adversaries with improving electronic warfare in Asia and elsewhere will drive strong demand for advanced electronic systems. Electronic weapons and defense systems are the backbone of all modern weapons systems.
MPD: The fifth generation of cellular is rapidly approaching and the immense scope of 5G seems almost certain to present significant opportunities for the RF and microwave industry. What is your perspective on this issue?
We are currently in the initial/prototyping stage of many 5G technologies. This will provide some low volume opportunities while the standards are worked out and finalized. Costs for test equipment in the 50 GHz and up bands will have to come down to make commercial applications viable, and at that time (probably 2-3 years) I expect to see volume in these applications.
MPD: In your opinion, what are the RF and microwave technologies to watch in 2017?
There are two interesting competitions: base station amplifiers and solid state heating. GaN (particularly GaN on Si) shows promise for both of these applications, but the incumbent technologies in both domains will not go easily. It will be interesting to see what kind of ground will be gained by GaN in these more high volume commercial spaces in the next few years.