New Tactical Radar Capability Ready to Fly

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Ground-moving target indication system integrated in pods for flight testing

Lockheed Martin’s latest development in foliage-penetrating radar may soon make it harder than ever for enemy forces to hide under obscuring trees and brush.

A ground/Dismounted-moving target indication (GMTI/DMTI) system developed for the U.S. Army’s Tactical Reconnaissance and Counter-Concealment-Enabled Radar (TRACER) has been integrated into a modular pod for airborne testing on a Blackhawk helicopter or a Predator-B aircraft.

“Integrating MTI into the TRACER system would provide the Army with an unprecedented level of situational awareness,” said Jim Quinn, vice president of C4ISR Systems with Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems and Global Solutions-Defense. “By combining TRACER’s high resolution foliage penetration imaging with the ability to detect small moving objects, it provides analysts with broad area activity detection and the ability to accurately locate virtually any surface target from a standoff range, in any type of weather.”

Based on the Lockheed Martin’s proven foliage penetrating (FOPEN) radar system, first deployed in 2005, TRACER is a lightweight, low-frequency synthetic-aperture radar that can peer through foliage, rain, darkness, dust storms, or atmospheric haze to provide real-time, high-quality tactical ground imagery. The system combines fine-resolution UHF radar and a broad swath to provide single-pass radar images as well as multi-pass change detection products for multiple imaging modes.

During an exercise at an U.S. Army test range, the team integrated and demonstrated GMTI (which uses a moving target’s Doppler radar return to distinguish it from surface clutter) into the TRACER system. In both ground-based and 300-foot tower testing, TRACER consistently detected groups of foliage-obscured moving targets, including moving vehicles and dismounted troops. The addition of MTI capability to TRACER will enable troops to detect subtlety obscured dismounted activity in a single pass. TRACER images can overlay GMTI tracks on accurate SAR maps, allowing activity in an area of interest to become easier to detect and interpret.