Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica) has launched Osprey, the world’s first lightweight airborne surveillance radar to be built with no moving parts.
The launch customer for the radar will be Norway, which has purchased Osprey as part of the country’s acquisition of 16 AW101 Helicopters for the NAWSARH programme (Norway All Weather Search And Rescue Helicopter).
Osprey’s flat panel design opens up the potential for installation on a long list of aircraft previously deemed unable to carry such a class of radar, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).
In its configuration for NAWSARH, Osprey comprises three flat panels, one on the front of the helicopter and two at the rear, facing out at angles to create the 360 degree field of regard. Space requirements are minimal and the helicopter’s belly is left clear, maximizing ground clearance for challenging rescue landings on rough terrain.
Osprey also marks a second world-first in providing a persistent 360 degree field of view in a lightweight package suitable for small platforms. Osprey represents the latest in ‘E-scan’ technology, meaning that it uses electronic-only means to direct the radar beam – moving it from target to target in fractions of a second. Because of the speed of these changes in direction, the Osprey radar effectively provides simultaneous coverage in multiple directions.
Designed and manufactured in the UK at Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s Edinburgh site, Osprey was developed via inward investment from the company in radar technology and expertise. Osprey will be sold alongside the company’s successful Seaspray family of E-Scan radars, which are in active service with the Royal Navy and with a number of export customers including the United States Coast Guard.