Friday, July 9, 2010

A Revolution in Coastal Surveillance System Radar

Onera, the French aerospace research center, is developing a surface wave radar that will revolutionize our ability to survey coastal zones.

Surface wave radars will allow navies, coast guards and customs services to enhance their maritime surveillance capabilities.

Surface wave radars allow us to see “beyond the horizon”, and detect ships out to a range of 400 kilometers from the coast – versus 50 to 100 kilometers for current radars. These radars comprise a number of whip antennas, which transmit a signal that propagates off the sea surface, giving them extended range, before bouncing back to be captured by an array of receiving antennas along the coast.

In just three years, Onera has achieved significant improvements in the radar’s detection rate and system availability, making it one of the most effective radars of this type in the world. Onera is of course continuing its work on these promising radars, including tests under all sea conditions, both day and night and in different types of terrain.

Surface wave radars can be used for a wide range of applications, including surveillance of maritime traffic (unusual routes, cargo transfers and trafficking of all kinds), piracy and illegal fishing or immigration.

While French defense procurement agency DGA is funding this innovative technology, Onera has also signed a partnership agreement with Thales for export markets. Given Onera’s current level of technological maturity, an operational surface wave radar could be set up in just 18 months.

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