STEWART PENNEY / LONDON
Manufacturer is also developing a roll-on/roll-off system for UH-60 Black Hawks
General Atomics is developing longer-range and smaller, lighter versions of its APY-8 Lynx synthetic aperture radar (SAR). A maritime surveillance version of the sensor is also in development.
The Ku-band, 100mm (4in) resolution Lynx is in service on General Atomics Predator unmanned air vehicles as well as US Army fixed-wing platforms. Lynx has a moving target indicator (MTI) mode in addition to the SAR capability.
Dr John Rawls, General Atomics vice-president Lynx systems group says SAR's all-weather capability has driven development, while another design driver is ease of use.
He says Lynx was designed to be upgradeable "and grow capabilities with Moore's Law", using improved processing power to either reduce size and weight, increase range or allow use with faster aircraft.
The existing Lynx weighs 52kg (115lb) with the smaller version 40kg, says Rawls. General Atomics has designed the electronics element of the new version and flown the package and is left with the lower risk transmitter work to perform, he says. The lightweight version is aimed at tactical UAVs with the UK's Watchkeeper programme and emerging US Army requirements being key targets.
The long-range - doubled to 75km (40nm) - version is being developed in anticipation of the need for the MQ-9B Predator B, which will have a hunter-killer role, needing a longer-range sensor to provide increased stand-off ranges, says Rawls. Weight will increase to 90kg.
The maritime version is aimed at a US Coast Guard Deepwater demonstration set for next year.
Rawls says the generic motion compensation algorithms critical for SAR have been modified to account for ship motion.
The company has used the algorithms to post process radar data and is now working on developing the real-time capability, says Rawls.
General Atomics is also working on a roll-on/roll-off Lynx system for Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks. The self-contained system will provide the US Army with a tactical adjunct to the strategic Northrop Grumman E-8 JSTARS radar-surveillance platforms, says Rawls. Trials with the system, related to the Future Combat System programme, used the system's tactical common datalink to control the radar from the ground, although the operational system will also have on-board personnel.
General Atomics has also discussed Lynx with Raytheon, which is developing the UK's ASTOR radar-surveillance aircraft.
Source: Flight International