TRACER synthetic aperture radar from Lockheed Martin completes testing aboard Predator UAV

Posted by John McHale
NASHVILLE, Tenn., 21 April 2011. Officials at Lockheed Martin tested their dual-band (UHF and VHF) synthetic-aperture radar -- TRACER (Tactical Reconnaissance and Counter-Concealment-Enabled Radar) -- aboard a Predator B MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

The radar can detect and geo-locate objects that are buried, camouflaged, or concealed under foliage. Classified as a queuing sensor, TRACER processes images in real time, and can immediately down-link captured images to multiple ground control stations. Prior to the MQ-9 UAV flight testing, TRACER had completed 100 test flights on manned platforms.
"TRACER has demonstrated its long endurance, wide-area surveillance capability to detect targets in all operational environments -- in any type of weather, day and night," says Jim Quinn, vice president of C4ISR Systems with Lockheed Martin's IS&GS-Defense. "TRACER will provide commanders with intelligence not currently available from higher frequency radars or electro-optical systems."
During the flight tests aboard the Predator B MQ-9, TRACER focused on identifying targets of interest that would be relevant to multiple theatres -- including CENTCOM, PACOM, AFRICOM, and SOUTHCOM.  Over the course of the four month testing, the TRACER team validated the radar's performance in the harsh environment of an UAV configuration, thus mitigating risk for eventual installation on a tier IV UAV or other platforms, such as the YMQ-18A unmanned aerial helicopter. During the tests the team also demonstrated satellite data link control of both the vehicle and radar system. 
There are currently four qualified TRACER systems available for deployment on manned or unmanned platforms. TRACER was developed for the U.S. Army's Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate, based at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md.
The TRACER system's design is predicated on Lockheed Martin's operationally proven foliage penetration (FOPEN) system, which was developed specifically to detect vehicles, buildings, and large metallic objects in broad areas of dense foliage, forested areas, and wooded terrain. The radar's advanced detection capability suppresses background clutter and returns from stationary objects, while revealing the positions of mobile and portable targets.


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