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Holographic radar missile scoring system passes proof of concept stage

21 September 2011

Cambridge Consultants has reported the successful demonstration of its holographic radar technology for target scoring in live firing trials under a US Department of Defense (DoD) programme. The programme is aimed at improving the projectile scoring capabilities of the US Navy and Army on land and sea surface ranges, to mitigate the high costs of live fire training and deliver more accurate data. The system is the first to align holographic radar and target scoring technologies.

The US Department for Operational Test & Evaluation required radar technology which could measure the trajectory and burst point of 5 inch and 50 calibre projectiles, fired against high-speed manoeuvrable target vehicles. An accurate scoring system mounted on the target vehicle allows training shots to be fired with an offset to provide a measure of effectiveness without destruction of the vehicle.

Land and sea surface vehicle installations present a considerable challenge because the clutter return produced by the ground or water surface is considerably larger than the projectile to be measured. On moving vehicles the challenge is increased, and on sea targets is complicated even further by the sea state. Holographic radar offers the optimum results in such difficult conditions as it extracts projectiles of interest from clutter using tracking algorithms while retaining the full sensitivity of the radar, rather than by raising thresholds and potentially missing critical data.
Using its holographic radar technology, Cambridge Consultants developed the Land and Surface Target Scorer (LSTS) system. Installed on high-speed land or sea-surface target vehicles, the system uses receiver array panels combined with high-speed signal processing to detect and track small projectiles in the presence of very large radar clutter, such as that experienced on moving land and sea surface targets.

During recent trials at the NSWC Test Range, Dahlgren VA, the LSTS system successfully detected, tracked and located the splash point of inert 5 inch projectiles, and was also able to pinpoint the burst point of a high-explosive round. In a multiple shot burst, the system separately tracked four shells fired at three second intervals. Observers were able to see the results in near real-time on a laptop PC, which gives confidence that a true real-time system will be possible in the next phase of development.

“The proof of concept demonstration has been a complete success”, said Gary Kemp, Program Director at Cambridge Consultants. “I am proud to announce these results, particularly because our team has taken the project from a standing start to this impressive demonstration in under 14 months. During these trials we were able to produce raw data plots immediately and full trajectory reconstructions in 15 minutes, under the scrutiny of our customer.”

The demonstration test took place with the radar system mounted on a tethered pontoon to prove its detection and tracking capabilities over a zone within the specified 360 degree, 1000 foot coverage. The demonstration team then conducted a rapid-fire test, during which all rounds were tracked through to impact on the water.

Dae Hong of the US Naval Air Warfare Center commented: “To witness a successful proof of concept constitutes a significant milestone for our program. To have developed a working prototype in such a short space of time is testament to the depth of knowledge and skills of the team at Cambridge Consultants. We look forward to developing the technology further and enhancing the training capabilities we are able to offer our troops.” 
Development of the LSTS system developed by Cambridge Consultants under the US DoD program is expected to be taken to the next level during 2011, concluding with a full-coverage demonstration, installed on a sea target moving at high-speed, with results being continuously produced in real-time over an extended test period. A demonstration of the system’s ability to detect and track 50 caliber shells will also be conducted.

Cambridge Consultants’ holographic radar technology is a non-scanning 3D radar that provides continuous illumination of its field of view and can resolve and measure an object’s range, direction and motion at fine scale. To date it has been engineered for a number of applications, including the enhancement of automotive radar capabilities and, most recently, has been scaled up for infill coverage for air traffic control, offering a solution to a current radar technology gap by enabling radar systems to differentiate moving aircraft from rotating wind turbines.

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