United States: ViSAR Award

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

AC-130U (US DoD)
AC-130U (US DoD)

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.

Chile: C-130 collects Sentinels

An AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel radar is loaded onto a Chilean Air Force C-130 ready for transport. (USAF)
An AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel radar is loaded onto a Chilean Air Force C-130 ready for transport. (USAF)

The Fuerza Aérea de Chile (Chilean Air Force) has sent a Lockheed Martin C-130 turboprop freighter to collect AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel X-band short-range air defence radars which have been purchased via a Foreign Military Sale from the United States.

These radars have a range of 40-75 kilometres (22-40 nautical miles) depending on the variant, and a ceiling of up to 39,000 feet (12,000 metres). Two of the radars were loaded onto the aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, California, for their journey to Latin America.

United States Of America: AN/SPS-48G(V) Update

An AN/SPS-48E radar undergoing maintenance (US Navy)
An AN/SPS-48E radar undergoing maintenance (US Navy)

ITT Exelis has been awarded a contract modification worth $20.2 million covering AN/SPS-48G(V)9 radar upgrade kits.

The S-band AN/SPS-48G is an upgraded version of the AN/SPS-48E three-dimensional naval surveillance radar, itself a member of the AN/SPS-48 family of systems which has been in US Navy service in one guise or another since the 1960s.

The AN/SPS-48E is currently being modernised under the Radar Obsolescence Availability Programme (ROAR) which is seeing 29 AN/SPS-48E radars being enhanced under an original contract worth €130.6 million ($169.3 million). This will install open architecture electronics in back end of the radar.

AN/SPS-48 radar family members reportedly have a range of circa 460 kilometres (250 nautical miles), a ceiling of 100,000 feet (30,000 metres), and scan 360° in azimuth and 65° in elevation. The radar is used on board the US Navy’s ‘Nimitz’ class aircraft carriers, plus its ‘Wasp’, ‘Tarawa’ and ‘San Antonio’ class amphibious assault ships. 

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