An airborne ground surveillance radar developed by Cassidian (EADS’ defense and security division) was recently demonstrated in flight testing. The new AESA-based radar is designed to detect targets over land and sea, with maximum resolution. Cassidian defines the new system as a ‘SMART radar’, for ‘Scalable Modular Aerospace Radar Technology’, featuring software-defined sensor architecture and flexible adaptation to various manned and unmanned platforms. As part of the flight test campaign carried out from the German air base in Hohn (in the Federal State of Schleswig-Holstein), ‘SmartRadar’ demonstrated airborne ground surveillance capabilities achieving record detection performance. According to Cassidian, the radar has also added new operating modes for maritime surveillance for this test. The Initial test phase included flights over Goose Bay in Canada in June 2012. Defense-Update reports
These tests confirmed the company’s innovative software-defined sensor concept, enabling the use of a common radar platform for different surveillance tasks, by implementing minor modifications to the system. Unlike conventional radars that are often optimised for a specific task, and are employed in a narrow frequency band, the ‘SmartRadar’ modular architecture permits scalability of bandwidth, frequency band and processing performance. This concept enables rapid adaptation of the sensor to new operational requirements, through the use of configurable firmware and software, supported by the systems’ variable cooling design, making the ‘SmartRadar’ suitable for a multitude of manned and unmanned platforms of different sizes.
The tests were conducted on behalf of the German procurement authority BAAINBw (Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support). Most recently, outstanding reconnaissance results were obtained over land during two flight test series in the past year. For these tests, a version of Cassidian’s SmartRadar was integrated into a pod, equipped with an autonomous cooling system, making it easy to adapt to various mission aircraft.
The high performance of the radar is largely due to state-of-the-art AESA technology (Active Electronically Scanned Array) which uses a large number of transmitter and receiver (T/R) modules in the antenna. These modules are developed and manufactured by Cassidian in its own facility, known as the “Microwave Factory”. Cassidian is the pioneer of this technology in Europe and delivers similar T/R modules for the TerraSAR earth observation satellite, the radar systems for the German Navy’s new F125-class frigates and the SPEXER 2000 border surveillance radar, amongst others.