Traveling wave tubes (TWTs) have been around since the 1950s, and since then the basic concept of this product has remained the same. The way these products are designed and manufactured, however, has improved greatly over the years.
The devices are still used to take power or energy within a specific frequency band and amplify that power so that more concentrated energy travels out of the TWT. Its smaller counterpart – solid-state high-power amplifiers (SSPAs) – achieve the same purpose but for equipment that require lower power levels. Both TWTS and SSPAs are used in a variety of applications. SSPAs work well in consumer products or testing and measuring equipment while TWTs are used in high-power critical applications such as radar equipment and electronic warfare equipment. Because of that, the engineering and manufacturing of TWT products has to be state of the art and foolproof.