Close to the Roots

Latest ground based radars aim to close critical gaps in air surveillance

Dilip Kumar Mekala

With the emergence of new technologies that boast of high performance and low cost solutions, ground based radars are significantly gaining prominence. While earlier solutions catered to civil and military needs separately, the new products that are entering the global market are targeting the dual needs in air surveillance. There is also a significant change in the range of these radars and the signal processing techniques, thereby catering to a wide spectrum of air defence threats.

Latest ground based radars aim to close critical gaps in air surveillanceRecently, Australia picked up airport surveillance radar from Airbus Defence and Space to monitor its military airbases. The company has received two contracts worth approximately 130 million Euros from Australia’s acquisition wing to equip and support nine military and civil/military Australian airfields with the world’s newest and powerful airport surveillance sensors. Under the project 10 Airport Surveillance Radar - Next Generation (ASR-NG) radars will provide enhanced input into the Australian national air traffic management surveillance picture and contribute to the achievement of air battle management missions. Deliveries, including nine complete and one training system, are planned until end 2020.

“ASR-NG provides outstanding performance for wide-area surveillance around airbases as well as safe guidance of individual aircraft during take-off and landing”, said Thomas Müller, head of Airbus Defence and Space’s Electronics business line. The system also includes the secondary radar MSSR 2000-I allowing for reliable individual identification of more than two thousand transponder-equipped aircraft at a time. Other key features of the ASR-NG are the proven ability to mitigate wind farm effects, and a significant increase of the primary radar’s detection range to 120 nautical miles (220 km). Additionally, it provides new 3D height measurement of primary radar and is resistant to interference by 4G/LTE mobile phone signals.

ASR-NG consists of solid state primary radar using an advanced signal processing technology for medium and long-range air traffic surveillance. With its recently completed primary radar 3D height measurement capability, ASR-NG closes the gap between a Tactical Medium Range Air Surveillance Radar and classical Air Traffic Control radar, combining operational advantages of both at excellent value for money ratio. With its extraordinary detection capabilities for even slow flying or hovering helicopters above heavy clutter areas, ASR-NG meets operational needs for military air traffic and mission area control. ASR-NG integrates with the Monopulse Secondary Surveillance Radar (MSSR) 2000-I secondary radar for automatic identification of individual cooperative aircraft. It meets the requirements for the military and its highly encrypted identification as well as the civil air traffic control requirements, which greatly improve aircraft identification security and safety.

Airbus Defence and Space supplies air traffic control and identification systems in the military and civilian sector worldwide. Amongst others, the company equips the German Armed Forces’ airports with Airport Surveillance Radar, S-Band (ASR-S) radar and delivers an approach control system for the military airfields in Switzerland. ASR-NG is contracted to be delivered to the Royal Canadian Air Force as well to the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom. In particular, the MSSR 2000-I secondary radar is deployed by the naval forces of Australia, the UK, Germany, France, Norway and Finland for military friend-or-foe identification. For civil and military air traffic control, those identification systems are used in countries such as Germany, France, the US, UK, Bulgaria and the Philippines.

In November 2015, Lockheed Martin announced its next generation radar technology called the Digital Array Row Transceiver (DART). According to the company, the radar products that use DART technology results in greater performance lowers life-cycle costs due to an increase in energy efficiency. DART claims to improve upon Lockheed Martin’s ground-based radar products that have a proven record of reliability for dozens of customers around the world.

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