Northrop Grumman and Raytheon have demonstrated their respective AMSTE systems

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has demonstrated the precision engagement of moving ground targets in real time. It used existing stand-off airborne radar sensors teamed with low-cost, stand-off precision guided weapons.

Project officials say flight testing shows that the Affordable Moving Surface Target Engagement (AMSTE) system can provide target position updates to GPS satellite navigation-guided munitions in flight. AMSTE fuses multiple ground moving-target indication (GMTI) radars and synthetic aperture radars (SAR) to provide accurate data with which to direct inexpensive munitions.

Northrop Grumman and Raytheon were selected for live-fire demonstrations against moving ground targets. One company will be selected next month to demonstrate the system against fast moving targets that use terrain masking. Finally, an end-to-end field demonstration of AMSTE will be conducted against time-critical targets in a large-scale exercise.

Raytheon used its upgraded Lockheed Martin U-2 radar, the ASARS-2A, the SAR/MTI sensor deployed on the Northrop Grumman RQ-4AGlobal Hawk, and the General Atomics Lynx SAR.

The data was used to guide a modified Raytheon AGM-65 Maverick missile launched by a Lockheed Martin F-16. The missile was equipped with the enhanced position location reporting system and GPS aided inertial navigation system. It struck the ground within 13m (43ft) of the moving target, which satisfied test objectives, says Raytheon.

Northrop Grumman's solution includes the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System's GMTI radar coupled with a company-developed active electronically scanned array radar developed for Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter candidate.

Targeting data gathered by each radar was used to direct a 950kg (2,000lb) Mk84 gravity bomb modified with a Lockheed Martin tail kit. Launched from an F-16 the weapon scored a direct hit on the remotely controlled target.

Project officials believe that the AMSTE concept is feasible and both companies estimate that AMSTE could be fielded by 2005 after a 24-month engineering and manufacturing development phase.

Source: Flight International