High-Performance Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)

Enhanced Long-Endurance Surface Search Demonstrated with Group III UAS

By Mike Ball / 13 Aug 2021
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Vanilla UAS with IMSAR radar

IMSAR, in conjunction with Vanilla Unmanned, has successfully demonstrated enhanced long-endurance surface-search using a Group III UAS (unmanned aerial system) equipped with both radar and Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR). The Vanilla UAS conducted a maritime beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) mission, lasting over 20 hours, during a U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet (USNAVSO/FOURTHFLT) Fleet Experiment, landing with an additional 28 hours of fuel remaining.

IMSAR’s NSP-5 radar system was installed as an external payload on Vanilla’s wing pylons, with a WESCAM MX-8 equipped as a retractable nose bay payload. The mission represents the longest continuous flight for IMSAR’s radar system, and IMSAR’s first occasion of command & control and transmission of real-time data products over satellite communications (SATCOM).

Vanilla’s UAS demonstrated long endurance, BVLOS, multi-sensor payload capability addresses limitations with current Group III UAS that provide only EO/IR sensing solutions at limited endurance and range. During the flight, real time radar products, EO/IR imagery, and Command & Control (C2) data were passed via SATCOM to operators at Naval Air Station Key West. The combination of sensors illustrated the power of wide-area detecting and tracking with radar, cross-cueing sensors, and subsequent identification with EO/IR.

IMSAR’s NSP-5 is a program of record-based, all-weather, day and night multi-mode radar. Operating from Vanilla UAS, the NSP-5 demonstrated real-time SAR imaging, Maritime Moving Target Indication (MMTI) and Inverse SAR (ISAR). The multi-mode NSP-5 is also capable of Coherent Change Detection (CCD), and Ground and Dismount MTI (GMTI/DMTI) over land. Together, the Vanilla and NSP-5 present a highly capable persistent ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) solution.

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact
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