ITT Exelis for the first time exhibited its airborne sense-and-avoid (ABSAA) radar under development for the U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (Bams) unmanned aircraft system. The radar was displayed this week at the Unmanned Systems North America conference in Las Vegas. It is also being promoted for other UASs as a solution to flying in unrestricted airspace, branded as the SkySense 2020H radar system.
The Bams system, the first U.S. Department of Defense ABSAA radar program of record, is in the final phases of development. ITT Exelis plans to begin test transmissions of the radar in September at its manufacturing facility in Van Nuys, Calif. The active electronically scanned array system should be ready for flight-testing in the first quarter of next year, David Jones, senior business development manager for radar, reconnaissance and acoustic systems, told AIN.
ITT Exelis is under contract from Bams contractor Northrop Grumman to provide the air-to-air radar subsystem for the Global Hawk maritime derivative. The sense-and-avoid radar enables the aircraft to comply with the International Civil Aviation Organization requirement that military and other state aircraft operate with “due regard” for the safety of civil aircraft when operating over international waters. The radar will provide information to the Bams operator to maneuver the aircraft away from possible collisions; in the future, an autonomous aircraft will perform its own maneuvers based on the ABSAA radar data.
Positioned behind the nose cone of the aircraft, the ABSAA radar is a three-panel, thin-tile array operating in the Ku-band. The range will be 8 to 10 nm, with a wide field of view (110 degrees on either side and 30 degrees up and down). The system is self-contained, with no supporting racks of processing electronics, and weighs 50 pounds. “This isn’t a repurposed radar; it’s dedicated for sense-and-avoid, but it can also be multiuse,” Jones said, adding that communications and weather-radar modes are being explored.
Northrop Grumman unveiled the first MQ-4C in a ceremony on June 14 at its manufacturing plant in Palmdale, Calif. Bams initial operational capability is planned for 2015, according to the Navy.