Whether by land, sea, or air, defense- electronics systems are designed to use a variety of electrical and optical signals for detection and protection. Many of these systems feature imaginative use of hardware and software; they often extract high performance levels from the latest available technology. But for all the advanced technologies that may combine for a new radar system or electronic-warfare (EW) platform, those systems and their components must still be tested.

Major suppliers of test equipment design and build solutions for far more than just defense electronics customers, of course; they are often driven by the needs of large markets in commercial communications. But when new test-equipment products provide new levels of performance, their benefits are often far-reaching across a number of different markets—including commercial, military, industrial, automotive electronics, and even medical electronics markets.

Test equipment suppliers do not often receive the credit due to them. Modern RF/microwave test equipment, such as that mentioned in this issue’s Cover Story on real-time signal analyzers, or the feature on arbitrary waveform generators, don’t just combine hardware and software; they combine different kinds of hardware and software. This hardware tackles everything from audio to microwave to digital signals.

Impressive coordination and timing is needed among different engineering groups to bring a new test instrument to market. Whether a group is involved in developing control software or is part of a team trying to produce a local oscillator (LO) with slightly lower phase noise, all of the contributions are important and all are vital to the success of the final product.

The instruments featured in this month’s issue offer state-ofthe- art capabilities in signal generation and analysis. But they are not quirky. The engineering teams that create test instruments that are vital to electronic product development know that these instruments must provide repeatable performance day after day.

Considering the number of different components and subsystems in some of these instruments, performance variations might be expected under changing environmental conditions. But modern test instruments from major equipment suppliers are stable and dependable. Electronic design engineers working in defense electronics and in those many other industries count on such instruments for reliable results.

Defense electronics systems and test equipment have long been interdependent, relying on each other for a push to the next generation of hardware/software and the next level of performance. The engineering teams that work on both types of products are to be applauded for their efforts.

Jack Browne
Technical Contributor