The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing radar that locks onto a target through cloud coverage.
Dubbed Video Synthetic Aperture Radar (ViSAR) system, it enables aircraft to offer close-air support to ground troops despite unclear weather conditions.
“Our radar system can be used to image the ground, even through clouds and dust, at a sufficiently high resolution and frame rate to support the engagement of maneuvering targets,” DARPA’s Bruce Wallace wrote in an article for SPIE.
DARPA will install the ViSAR system using a type of gimbal that is flown on a variety of aircraft – including the MQ-9 Reaper drone – to show that the system can easily be installed on tactical aircraft, such as the AC-130 gunship.
According to DARPA, laboratory integration for the ViSAR will take place this fall, and the radar system will be packed into the gimbal during the winter and spring of 2016, Sputnik reported on Tuesday.
DARPA fabricated the necessary hardware, including receivers, exciters and an amplifier as no suitable electronics for the ViSAR system currently exist.
Flight tests in summer 2016 will demonstrate over-the-air real-time imaging of moving and stationary targets through clouds, the agency was quoted as saying.
A gimbal-mounted radar sensor will provide high-frame-rate radar images in order to identify targets when weather conditions inhibit the use of electro-optic sensors, which converts light into an electronic signal.