United States: Making Sense

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has provided ChainHomeHigh with an update regarding the firm’s participation in the United States Air Force Laboratory’s Multi Sensor Detect Sense and Avoid (MSDSA) programme.

The MSDSA initiative is developing an Airborne Sense And Avoid (ABSAA) sensor which can be used onboard Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). ABSAA technology developed by the company uses an X-band radar equipped with an Electronically Reconfigurable Array (ERA). This can detect flying objects approaching an aircraft, and provide over 60 seconds of avoidance time. SNC performed its first equipment demonstration as part of the MSDSA programme in October 2011.

The firm has since revealed that a second set of flight tests were performed in December 2012, with a Cessna 404 Titan twin piston engine aircraft carrying the MSDSA sensor and a Cessna 172 Skyhawk single piston engine plane acting as the intruder.

The MSDSA programme is intended to develop ABSAA technology for Tier-I, Tier-II and Tier-III class UAVs. According to Greg Cox, corporate vice president of the firm’s communications, navigation, surveillance and air traffic management business area, the MSDSA architecture is designed to; “accommodate other sensors such as Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast or Identification Friend or Foe Mode-5 transponder functions.”

Although SNCs involvement with the AFRL’s MSDSA programme is now complete, the firm; “is working an internal research and development program to improve the maturity of the MSDSA product. Additionally, SNC is working with other potential customers on continuing our role in sense and avoid.”

Published by Thomas Withington

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

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