A group of five European companies has formed SOSTAR to develop a radar system as a contender for NATO's air-to-ground surveillance (AGS) requirement.

AGS will provide the alliance with a radar reconnaissance and surveillance capability similar to the US Air Force's Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS). Northrop Grumman, which is also working on a rival AGS programme, proposes an Airbus A321-mounted system based on the JSTARS radar technology insertion programme.

SOSTAR will be based at EADS Dornier subsidiary in Friedrichshafen, Germany. It will be formed by EADS (28%), France's Thales (28%), Italy's FIAR (28%), Indra of Spain (11%) and Fokker Space (8%) from the Netherlands.

Dornier chief executive Stefan Zoller says "Europe has considerable gaps" in long-range reconnaissance capabilities and that SOSTAR goes some way to addressing that problem by pooling Europe's technologies. He adds: "Co-operation with the USA is possible and a desirable second step."

An active array radar - SOSTAR-X- which combines EADS and Thales technologies, is being developed and will be mounted on a Fokker 100 for trials. The company has c85 million ($79.5 million) for project definition, development and building.

The trials aircraft will contain three workstations for acquisition, processing and operational control of the system and a datalink to distribute information to mobile and fixed ground stations. SOSTAR's first step will be to demonstrate the transmission of real-time ground reconnaissance data from the aircraft to ground positions.

Dornier has won a DM35 million ($16.3 million) contract from NATO to develop information technology systems for the alliance's Air Command and Control System. The equipment will be based on Dornier's DIPLAS mission system, which is in German air force service.

Source: Flight International