Lockheed Martin has revealed details of its new Ku-band imaging and ground moving target indicator (GMTI) radar, describing it as a next-generation system for small air vehicle applications, manned or unmanned. Lockheed Martin’s Integrated Systems and Global Solutions (IS&GS) division has named it Asars-3, reflecting the company’s heritage as developer of the first advanced synthetic aperture radar system for the SR-71 Blackbird. Asars-2 was another X-band system, developed for the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft by Raytheon. A Lockheed Martin official told AIN that a version of Asars-3 could replace the Raytheon system on the U-2, if funding becomes available.
Lockheed Martin has already developed another version of Asars-3 for a classified program. The configuration IS&GS officials described at the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) Convention in Washington weighs only 165 pounds. The active-array antenna weighs just 25 pounds yet has 900 watts output. Mark Grablin, director of airborne reconnaissance systems, said that Ku-band provides much greater resolution than X-band systems and showed photo-quality images taken by the company’s Piper Navajo testbed.
X-band radars have traditionally offered longer range, but Lockheed Martin officials told AIN that larger antennas and modern processing techniques could offset that disadvantage in Ku-band systems. Grablin also told attendees that Tracer, the company’s UHF penetrating radar, has already flown on the Ikhana UAV, NASA’s version of the MQ-9 Reaper. It has been repackaged into a pod with dual antennas. He said that upcoming flight trials on a U.S. Army UH-60 “should prove that a low-frequency radar can do GMTI of targets obscured by foliage, as well as imaging,” thanks to newly developed algorithms.
Meanwhile, Northrop Grumman used the AUSA Convention to describe improvements to its small Ku-band radar.