Posted by John McHale
DENVER, 25 Aug. 2010. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI) announced that it demonstrated a new Maritime Wide Area Search (MWAS) mode planned for the proven Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar/Ground Moving Target Indicator (SAR/GMTI) for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Capable of a 30-degree per second scan rate and optimizing algorithms for detecting and imaging small vessels, including Self-Propelled Semi-Submersible (SPSS) vessels, the new MWAS mode was demonstrated at the U.S. Fleet Forces Command's (USFF’s) Trident Warrior 2010 (TW10) experiment held off the coast of Southern California. The Trident Warrior experiments are the U.S. Navy's premier FORCEnet Sea Trial experiments and are designed to provide speed to capability and to develop supporting tactics, techniques, and procedures. "Maritime situational awareness is an emerging need," says Linden Blue, president, Reconnaissance Systems Group, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. "Our new maritime mode provides the operator with wide-area coverage and the ability to cross-cue the electro-optic/infrared camera automatically to an object of interest." In coordination with the Navy Research Laboratory (NRL) and the TW10 experiment leads, GA-ASI conducted four flights involving small vessel detection and tracking tests. Through the dense cloud cover encountered during the morning flight tests, the Lynx radar was able to detect the SPSS crafts successfully at significant stand-off ranges and provide very accurate intercept vectors to other aircraft and sea-based vessels participating in the exercise. Successful demonstrations of the automatic cross-cuing function of the Lynx radar to the EO/IR camera were conducted during the afternoon tests when the clouds had dispersed enough to make visual observation of the SPSS possible. "These exercises allowed the community to witness the new Lynx maritime mode under operational conditions and to evaluate its contribution to a maritime CONOPS [Concept of Operations] against challenging semi-submersible threats," Blue says. "Success of the mission, validation of the CONOPS, and the performance of the Lynx radar indicates that the maritime capability is ready to transition to the military and border patrol users."The MWAS mode, along with a three-time increase in the scan rate of GMTI mode and a new SAR-aided alignment mode, are being incorporated into the software baselines for Lynx radars deployed by U.S. end-users.