Canada's Department of National Defence and National Research Council (NRC) claim to have developed a "unique" capability to modify maritime-surveillance radars to provide high-resolution imagery.

The spotlight synthetic-aperture-radar (SAR) system has been developed to upgrade the Texas Instruments radar in the Canadian Forces' Lockheed CP-140 Aurora maritime-patrol aircraft.

The modification involves a separate signal-processor which converts the existing sensor into a multi-mode imaging radar. SAR is a technique which uses aircraft motion to increase the effective aperture, and therefore the resolution, of a radar. Spotlight SAR is believed to enable the existing radar to be used to provide high-resolution images of moving targets.

An experimental/development model of the modified radar has been flight-tested in the NRC's Convair 580 research aircraft. Earlier this year, the aircraft was used in a NATO maritime exercise off Canada, simulating the operational role of the CP-140 and enabling real spotlight-SAR images to be collected for evaluation. The NRC says that the trial was successful, with participants being "very impressed" with image quality.

The programme has moved on to the advanced-development phase, with the aim of retrofitting spotlight-SAR capability to Canada's CP-140s in the future.

Source: Flight International