UAV SAR Recce Payload (General Atomics/ USA)
Lynx is a multifunction Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) operating in SAR and Ground Moving Target Indication (GMTI) modes. The echoes of the radar signals are processed by the system into a high resolution images, and delivered via datalink to the Ground Exploitation Station. LYNX consists of a radar electronics module and antenna mounted on a gimbal assembly weighing a total of 52kg. The Lynx’s provides photographic quality ground pictures at resolutions ranging from 0.1 to 3 meters. The radar can also scan a large or small area for moving objects, detecting targets at speeds typical of vehicular movements (10 – 70 kph). When transferred to the ground station, moving target data is usually overlaid on a digital map to generate situational awareness map.
AN/APY-8 Lynx II is a lightweight version of Lynx operating on the US Air Force Predator RQ-1 UAV. A new version designed for operation at extended range and high altitude is Lynx ER, currently fielded with US Air force Predator B MQ-9. Lynx II is planned for fielding with the US Army in 2007, on several platforms, including FireScout (FCS Class IV), ER/MP and Hunter.
All Lynx models are offering several operating modes including STRIP, SPOT and MTI. STRIP mode is used for large area coverage. Flying at a speed of 70 knots, Lynx II can cover an area of 25 km2 per minute at a resolution of 1 meter. Lynx ER is designed for faster platforms (Predator B flying at 250 knots) at higher altitude (45,000 feet vs. 25,000 ft. for RQ-1) will be able to double the rate to a coverage of about 60 km2 per minute. When a closer look is required, the radar can be pointed at specific locations or targets utilizing the SPOT mode. In SPOT, Lynx can deliver a detailed image of a 300×170 meter target area, showing objects with details as small as 10cm, from a distance of 40 kilometers.
August 2006: General Atomics and BAE Systems completed a first phase of a demonstration of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) pod flown on an F-16, mounting a derivative of the Lynx SAR radar, previously used on UAV. Follow-on demonstrations will include SAR/EOIR sensor fusion.
The flight demonstration is a critical milestone in a two-year cooperative research effort between GA-ASI’s Reconnaissance Systems Group and BAE Systems. The ultimate goal of the research is to provide the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Air National Guard with the capability to “fuse” the products of two high-resolution sensors integrated into a single reconnaissance pod. The fused product is designed to provide the Warfighter with target detection and geo-location benefits that exceed the capability of each sensor used singly. The next phase, scheduled for the upcoming weeks, will demonstrate combined SAR and Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) data collection. This data will be processed using state-of-the-art sensor fusion algorithms developed by BAE Systems.
According to Linden P. Blue, president, Reconnaissance Systems Group, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. “A total of 74 images were collected and processed by the team, including a mix of high-resolution spot images, as well as wide field-of-view images at various resolutions.” BAE Systems is building and sustaining the Theater Airborne Reconnaissance System (TARS) currently used by the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard. The Lynx system was installed in an identical pod.