The development of new aerospace and defense technologies has long been associated with significant cost, which is hardly surprising when one thinks about the materials and equipment involved. Another area where large investment is typically required, though perhaps a less obvious one, is testing.
Radar, for instance, has traditionally been tested during actual flights; given the intricacies of the current technological landscape, however, effective testing can cost tens of thousands of dollars per hour.
“New radar technologies, such as synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imaging, as well as increased agility and a wide spectral range — coupled with the introduction of cognitive electronic warfare (EW) jamming techniques — have dramatically increased the complexity of radar testing,” said Mark Bruington, vice president and general manager of Mercury Spectrum Systems. Bruington, a retired Navy captain who served as an aviator for 28 years, added that open-air range testing can also introduce security risks.
The solution? Controlled laboratory simulation, which is made possible by devices such as the recently introduced ARES3100. Advanced radar environment simulator (ARES) offers a high-performance open architecture that is configurable with a variety of hardware and software options, Mercury said. The new device boasts a Windows-based graphic user interface (GUI) for optimal out-of-the-box experience with minimal system setup; it also includes an extensive library of waveforms to simulate real-world environments and replicate field testing within a safer, more controlled environment. All of this translates to a high degree of signal realism with the capacity to model multiple targets, jamming threats and atmospheric effects — eliminating the need for costly, custom-designed solutions.
“With Mercury's radar environment simulator solutions, radar systems can be tested, validated and optimized in the safety and security of the lab… customers get more accurate results faster, which lowers cost and ensures aircrew safety," Bruington noted.
Features of the ARES3100 include:
- Robust GUI for simple operation
- Pulse-to-pulse operation with real-time results
- Standard one-channel, configurable up to four simultaneous channels
- Up to eight targets per channel
- Standard 2 to 18 GHz operating range; available options for less than 2 GHz and greater than 18 GHz
- Instantaneous bandwidth of 850 MHz
- Output power level base system equal to 0; other output levels available
- Output power range of 100 dB, with 0.25 dB resolution
- Ethernet control