HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass., Oct. 5, 2006 – The path to greatly enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability became clearer Sept. 30 with the first developmental test flight of a new, state-of-the-art radar system.
The test, the first in what will be a year-long effort, was run by the 851st Electronic Systems Group, here, and its contractor team of Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.
The radar system being tested is the Global Hawk variant of its Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program, often referred to simply as MP-RTIP.
The team is conducting the tests aboard a Proteus, a manned, twin-turbofan, high-altitude, multi-mission aircraft about the same size as a Global Hawk.
The aircraft, operating out of a commercial air field in Southern California, flew for nearly two hours, according Lt. Col. Pete Krawczyk, commander of the 638th Electronic Systems Squadron.
During that time, the aircraft climbed to 22,000 feet and orbited at that altitude while radar system checks were conducted.
The team was able to begin testing different radar modes, as well as various hardware components and communication links, Krawczyk said.
The radar is controlled from the ground using a modified version of the Multi-Platform Common Data Link, which also allows real-time monitoring of performance.
The MP-RTIP will provide advanced surveillance capabilities, including ground moving target indication, which tracks vehicle movement, and synthetic aperture radar, which returns high-resolution still images.
In its larger configuration, the radar is also capable of providing precision air-to-air tracking and cruise missile defense.
The larger version of the radar, referred to as the Wide Area Surveillance (WAS) sensor, is also being developed for the E-10A technology demonstration program. The E-10A demonstration will include incorporation of the radar onto a wide-body manned aircraft.
NATO is also looking to incorporate this next-generation radar technology onto manned and unplanned platforms, Krawczyk said.
NATO is considering a version of the Block 40 Global Hawk, on which the U.S. plans to install the radar for its unmanned requirement.
The Proteus testing, which is three months ahead of the program’s baseline schedule, will go a long way toward reducing risk, said Col. Dwyer Dennis, the 851st Group commander.
In fact, one of the most impressive things about the testing program is that it’s ahead of schedule despite its heavy emphasis on addressing integration issues as they’re detected, he said.
“This is all about executing the risk management plan,” Dennis said. “If we see a risk, we don’t move until we address it.”