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Electronic Systems Group Tests Next Generation Radar

The 851st Electronic Systems Group is on the cusp of the next major spiral for the
Global Hawk variant of its Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program.

By U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Stephen Fox / Electronic Systems Center Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass., May 9, 2006 – The 851st Electronic Systems Group is on the cusp of the next major spiral for the Global Hawk variant of its Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program.

The group is preparing for a year-long test of the smaller version of the radar aboard the Proteus, a manned twin turbofan high altitude multi-mission aircraft similar in size to the Global Hawk, on which the radar will eventually be installed.

The MP-RTIP is the next generation airborne sensor designed to provide advanced surveillance capabilities, including ground and air moving target indication.

The smaller Global Hawk Block 40 version is the one undergoing initial testing on Proteus. A larger variation, referred to as the E-10 Wide Area Surveillance Sensor, is also being developed for a wide-body manned aircraft.

The first step of the Proteus test process was completed last week at a civilian flight test center at Mojave Airfield, near Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., when Proteus was flown with the pod that will house the MP-RTIP radar once the test period begins in September.

To replicate the weight and characteristics of the radar, the pod contained mass simulators during this safety flight.

"As the pod undergoes installation and safety of flight testing on Proteus, the Global Hawk MP-RTIP radar is in the Systems Integration Lab in El Segundo, Calif., undergoing final integration where both hardware and software are tested at the system level in preparation for the beginning of flight testing."

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Pete Krawczyk

"As the pod undergoes installation and safety of flight testing on Proteus, the Global Hawk MP-RTIP radar is in the Systems Integration Lab in El Segundo, Calif., undergoing final integration where both hardware and software are tested at the system level in preparation for the beginning of flight testing," said Lt. Col. Pete Krawczyk, commander of the 638th Electronic Systems Squadron.

Once the radar is complete-about five months down the road-it will be transported to the test site and installed on the Proteus.

The radar being tested on Proteus is identical to the version that will eventually be incorporated onto the Global Hawk platform, but the pod flown on Proteus was much larger to provide space for test equipment.

Additionally, the added portion contains power and cooling units intended to simulate installation on the Global Hawk, according to the Maj. Kenneth Butler, chief of the group's Global Hawk MP-RTIP program.

See Caption.
Proteus takes off at Mojave Airfield, Calif., April 27, 2006, carrying the pod that will contain the MP-RTIP radar later this year. A year of testing will begin in September once the radar is installed on Proteus. U.S. Air Force courtesy photo

Adding an extra spiral of testing before the Global Hawk integration process is somewhat of a conservative approach, the major said, designed to reduce risk though a step-by-step test process.

Proteus is less capable than the Global Hawk, in terms of altitude, airspeed and other performance parameters, but the key to the upcoming test period will be to evaluate the performance of the radar itself rather than the platform, according to Col. Dwyer Dennis, commander of the 851st Electronic Systems Wing.

"MP-RTIP is a family of systems with common software and radar modes," Colonel Dennis said. "The testing that will be completed on Proteus is essentially a risk reduction spiral from which we can glean vital information applicable to every variation of the MP-RTIP radar, whether it be Global Hawk or the E-10."

In September, the radar will be incorporated onto Proteus and the contractor will begin flight testing the various radar modes, which include Ground Moving Target Indicator and Air Moving Target Indicator, a capability that tracks moving targets in near real time, and Synthetic Aperture Radar, which is a higher resolution still picture, according to Major Butler.

The testing will culminate with an eight-week evaluation period during which the Air Force, led by the Electronic Systems Center team, will assess the performance of the radar and determine success or failure based on specific performance parameters.

After the Proteus test, the contractor-government team will evaluate the data and embark on further Developmental Test and Evaluation, during which the MP-RTIP will be integrated onto the Global Hawk platform, the major said.

The MP-RTIP-equipped Global Hawk is scheduled to roll off the production line around 2011, to meet Air Force operational needs.
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Oct. 23, 2014
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