Euronaval: Thales Unveils Surface Scout

Thales has unveiled its new Surface Scout naval surveillance radar at this year’s Euronaval exhibition in Paris.

This new X-band system has been developed using some of the technology fielded on the company’s Sea Watcher 100 naval radar, such as algorithims for detecting small surface targets.

The Surface Scout’s Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) technology enables it to perform simultaneous transmit and receive functions. Surface Scout also exploits the phenomena known as Evaporation Ducting by which the radar’s waves are trapped in a band of moist air which can reach between ten and 20m above the sea surface. This enables the radar waves to bend with the curvature of the Earth, this extending its range, although this is dependent on the height of the antenna above the surface.

In terms of enhancing the radar’s resistance to countermeasures, Thales has designed the Surface Scout with a low output power of five watts, although this can be reduced to five miliwatts if required. Frequency agility is built into the design, along with low antenna sidelobes; all helping to reduce detection.

While the Surface Scout is not equipped with an integral Identification Freind or Foe antenna, it can take aircraft transponder information from other ship-mounted systems such as a vessel’s standard Very High Frequency (VHF) communications fit.

Advanced Dopplar processing is included in the radar’s software, plus an automatic surveillance and tracking system. The Advanced Dopplar Processing enables the radar to determine targets in high clutter environments such as low-flying helicopters. The speed, and possible type of helicopter can be determined by the radar by measuring the relative speeds of the tips of the aircraft’s rotorblades and its spinning rotorhub.

In terms of performance, the radar has an instrumented range of between 16m up to 40km (52ft-22nm), depending on its operating mode (small target surveillance, navigation or helicopter guidance). Much use is made of Commercial-Off-The-Shelf components such as standard PC processing, along with solid state technology which dispenses with a wave guide.

In terms of programmes, the company is currently in discussions with the Royal Netherlands Navy with a view to equipped the fleet’s forthcoming Joint Support Ship logistics vessels with the Surface Scout.

Published by Thomas Withington

Thomas Withington is a writer and analyst specialising in electronic warfare, radar and military communications.

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