Digital Radar Tech to enable distributed sensing

Digital Radar Tech to enable distributed sensing

Sandia National Laboratories Photo

SEVERNA PARK, Maryland — A new digital radar architecture being developed at Sandia National Laboratories aims to change the paradigm of military detection.

The new technology replaces analog signal processing hardware with digital signal processing firmware and software that can be downloaded for different missions onto a small, toolbox-sized piece of equipment that integrates with existing sensors and future.

It takes radars “from a few exquisite sensors to a distributed network [electronic warfare]distributed communications, distributed intelligence paradigm,” said Jacques Loui, Sandia Multi-Mission Radar Frequency Architecture Technical Lead.

The architecture allows a single sensor to multitask “like a Swiss army knife,” reducing space, weight and power requirements, Loui said. In theory, the sensors could be placed in a variety of unmanned aircraft, manned aircraft and even weapons to form a distributed sensing network of platforms capable of communicating and collaborating.

The flexibility of the digital architecture could allow a sensor to tackle one EW mission on one sortie and then perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance on the next, he said. declared.

It has the potential to help realize the Army’s concept of replacing expensive, mission-dedicated aircraft like the EA-18G Growler with a slew of cheap drones and smart weapons, it said. -he declares.

The rapidly scalable and reconfigurable architecture uses advanced electronics developed for 5G mobile phone systems. Sandia adapts them as digital processing tools to convert huge amounts of analog data into digital signals and vice versa. For example, the tools can transform an analog Synthetic Aperture Radar – used for surveillance and intelligence – into a digital version.

5G components also allow sensors to receive and transmit massive amounts of data over a much wider bandwidth and process it in real time at the sensor level.

“Data is processed to be produced as actionable products,” Loui noted. “It does not require post-processing.”

The new architecture is jamming resistant because users can digitally tune or change the characteristics of the signals they transmit in real time. This makes them harder to recognize, he added.

It “can generate very high-resolution images, but we’re not tied to chirp waveforms anymore. Any opponent who sees a tweet knows they’re being photographed,” Loui said, referring to the sweep signals.

The technology is currently being tested aboard a de Havilland Twin Otter aircraft and could be in service as early as 2025, according to the lab.

Topics: Electronics, emerging technologies, intelligence and surveillance

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