Analysis by IDC

The future of weaponry lies in stealth technology which Northrop Grumman attempted in the early 50ís and has now improved on B2 bombers and ships. The UK too has taken steps in this field. Sensors Business a division of Thomson Racal Defence Ltd,,  has teamed up with DERA and the University College London (UCL) to undertake a three year programme into innovative radar research related to counter stealth. Advances in stealth technology, the introduction of new platforms such as unmanned air vehicles and attack helicopters, along with the concealment of military targets in civilian areas are factors that make the detection, identification and engagement of targets increasingly more difficult. The scope of the teamís work covers detection, tracking and classification of Ďdifficultí and stealth targets in land, sea and air environments. Besides the work on advanced system concepts and processing techniques, the research will include Operational Analysis assessments. Covering 10 individual projects, the research will combine to give balanced coverage of the radar counter stealth field and along with ongoing programmes, will underpin the future work in the MoD Applied Research Programme (ARP).

The teamís integrated and coherent research programme will provide a focused source of advice and expertise to the MoD on all aspects of radar counter stealth needed to meet the future threats to UK forces. The three year contract, valued at some £3 million, was awarded under the MoDís Research Competition Pilot. David Sheppard, managing director of the Sensors Business said, "This programme marks a first in combining the capabilities of Thomson Racal Defence, DERA and UCL to address mid and long-term future research, that will significantly enhance the operational capability of the UKís Armed Forces. The core aspects of the work and the innovative Blue Sky research into radar counter stealth is particularly relevant to our future product line of airborne and land-based radar systems and will provide a valuable insight into the product technologies needed to develop our next generation of systems."

Thomson Racal Defence has extensive expertise in the latest signal processing techniques for detecting stealthy targets derived from advanced radar programmes such as those for the Nimrod MRA4 and the Sea King AEW Mk7, the COBRA (Counter Battery Radar) and the MSTAR Mid Life Update. The radar cross section measurement ranges managed by Thomson Racal Defence on behalf of DERA, the companyís own large-scale ranges at Wells and its transportable measurement equipment will all play a significant role in the project.

Thomson Racal Defenceís extensive activities encompass; communications, air defence, sensors, optronic systems, naval systems and avionics. Combined global revenues of Thomson-CSF are close to £8.2 billion. The new enlarged company employs 65,000 people worldwide; 50% are based outside France, including 14,500 in the UK with a turnover of £2 billion.

IDC has analysed again and again that in India the DRDO which executes very expensive projects (In UK DERA, Defence Research Agency supervises projects) will have to join hands with private defence firms to get their almost ready projects off the ground and make them viable. We await the LCA flight trials promised by DRDO by year end which it must deliver to improve its image and morale. Incidentally, DRDO is also engaged in stealth technology development and IDC would like to report their achievements if made public.

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