Selex has begun flight testing of a revised configuration of its PicoSAR miniature X-band synthetic-aperture radar (SAR), with results to date demonstrating the ability to produce imagery in strip and spot modes with a resolution of 0.3m at ranges of 5-10km (3-6 miles), writes Peter La Franchi.

The initial flight trials were carried out in central Scotland on 30 May, with the radar carried aboard a chartered Eurocopter AS355 helicopter. Selex says the installation was kept to a simple bolt-on arrangement, with the only dampening being internal vibration suppression within the radar unit itself. Data recording was carried out on board the helicopter using a laptop computer.

The first flights were intended to demonstrate the basic capabilities of the radar, with follow-on testing to start late this month using a manned fixed-wing aircraft, and to include initial tests of the radar’s ground moving-target indication capabilities.

The revised PicoSAR configuration will be unveiled at this week’s Eurosatory exhibition in Paris. The radar is being developed for tactical unmanned air vehicles, with first UAV flights expected within the next three to four months. Selex says candidate platforms include the AAI Shadow 200, Galileo Avionica Falco and Sagem Sperwer.

Initial production units could be commercially available within 12-18 months, with the company now preparing to transition to a full production version.

Consideration is also being given to derivative versions of the basic 10kg (22lb) sensor for carriage by medium-altitude UAVs, and for a helicopter version for use during homeland security and paramilitary operations.

Source: Flight International