L-3 Electron Devices has been awarded a contract by the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) worth $2.6 million (€1.9 million) to undertake the Video Synthetic Aperture Radar (ViSAR) design and development programme.
The ViSAR initiative intends to develop a SAR radar which can perform target identification through cloud and other battlefield obscurants to enable United States Air Force AC-130H/U Spectre/Spooky-II fixed-wing gunships to
engage targets in bad weather or dusty conditions. This would have the added advantage of enabling the gunship to use such conditions to mask the aircraft from ground-to-air fire.
As part of the contract L-3 will construct and test the radar, and then integrate it onto an AC-130 airframe for additional testing. Ultimately, the ViSAR sensor is intended to compensate for shortfalls in the performance of the infra-red sensors which AC-130s routinely carry which can be disrupted by obscurants in the atmosphere. Once developed, the ViSAR sensor could be housed on the aircraft in an external pod mounting.