French Air Force Flight Tests Passive Airborne Radar

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Friday, October 16, 2015, the first flight of an airborne passive radar was held on the air base 701 Salon-de-Provence.

This flight follows the promising initial ground tests of the complete system, which took place in the spring of that year.

This latest technology offers the ability to detect potential air threats at low altitude and low speed, while remaining discreet. The main feature of this radar system is that it acts purely as a receiver and uses electromagnetic emissions already in the environment. This way, it exploits echoes created by civilian transmitters such as those of digital terrestrial television (DTT).

The experimental aircraft used for these tests is the Busard motoglider belonging to ONERA. It is fitted with a complete reception system that was specially developed for the project, and which in particular can be integrated into a pod carried by the aircraft.

The first flight lasted two hours, and took place in the area around Salon-de-Provence – Orange – Aix-en-Provence – Marseille to benefit from the DTT transmitters located at Grande Etoile and Mont Ventoux. These tests have validated the electronic part of the system.

This marks an important milestone for the project. Data integrity has been validated and data is currently being processed by the project team to further develop processing methods especially tailored to the airborne environment.

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