ATRW-LED team is preparing for flight tests of a passive millimetre-wave camera which could allow low-visibility operations with commercial and military aircraft. System checkout will begin later this month and 60h of flight testing is scheduled to start in September, using the US Air Force's Boeing C-135CSpeckled Trout testbed.

The TRW-led consortium was awarded a $15 million cost-sharing demonstration contract in 1994, under the US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's dual-use technology initiative.

A similar contract was awarded to a team led by Lear Astronics, to demonstrate a system using an active millimetre-wave radar. Lear's Autonomous Landing Guidance system is also being tested in the Speckled Trout. TRW's consortium includes Honeywell, McDonnell Douglas, NASA and the USAF and Army.

The passive sensor is based on a focal-plane array consisting of some 1,000 gallium-arsenide millimetre-wave receivers. Images from the sensor will be projected on to a head-up display.

TRW is "confident" that it will meet requirements for an enhanced-vision system, based on the images acquired during low-visibility testing. The company says that, unlike an active system, the passive camera will allow multiple aircraft fitted with it to be operated simultaneously on the ground without risk of interference.

Source: Flight International