Last updated: Friday May 06, 2016
An Osprey electronically scanned radar is installed on an aircraft. (Photo: Leonardo-Finmeccanica)
New Osprey lightweight AESA radar system by Leonardo
Leonardo-Finmeccanica has launched Osprey, the latest addition to the company’s electronically scanning (E-scan) radar product range. Based around a flat-panel antenna design, Osprey is the world’s first lightweight airborne surveillance radar to be built with no moving parts.
Leonardo’s new Osprey lightweight E-scan radar
Leonardo-Finmeccanica also announced that the launch customer for the radar will be Norway, which has purchased Osprey as part of the country’s acquisition of 16 Leonardo-Finmeccanica Helicopters AW101s for the NAWSARH programme (Norway All Weather Search And Rescue Helicopter).
Osprey’s flat panel design opens up the potential for installation on a long list of aircraft previously deemed unable to carry such a class of radar, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). In its configuration for NAWSARH, Osprey comprises three flat panels, one on the front of the helicopter and two at the rear, facing out at angles to create the 360 degree field of regard. Space requirements are minimal and the helicopter’s belly is left clear, maximizing ground clearance for challenging rescue landings on rough terrain.
Osprey also marks a second world-first in providing a persistent 360 degree field of view in a lightweight package suitable for small platforms. Osprey represents the latest in ‘E-scan’ technology, meaning that it uses electronic-only means to direct the radar beam – moving it from target to target in fractions of a second. Because of the speed of these changes in direction, the Osprey radar effectively provides simultaneous coverage in multiple directions.
Designed and manufactured in the UK at Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s Edinburgh site, Osprey was developed via inward investment from the company in radar technology and expertise. Osprey will be sold alongside the company’s successful Seaspray family of E-Scan radars, which are in active service with the Royal Navy and with a number of export customers including the United States Coast Guard.
In addition to surveillance radars, Leonardo-Finmeccanica is Europe’s leader in fire control radar, providing the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar for Saab’s Gripen NG fighter. The company also leads the pan-European EuroRADAR consortium to provide the current Captor-M radar for the Eurofighter Typhoon and is leading the same consortium in the development of the Typhoon’s new Captor-E AESA radar.
Leonardo-Finmeccanica in Nerviano (near Milan, Italy) also produces high-performance mechanically scanned radars, the Grifo (combat radar family) and Gabbiano (surveillance radar family). These are both in production and have been sold widely internationally, over 400 Grifo radars and over 50 Gabbiano radars have been sold to date. New Osprey lightweight AESA radar system disclosed by Leonardo @airrecognition.com
Launch customer of Leonardo’s Osprey will be Norway, which ordered 16 AW101 helicopters for its NAWSARH programme (Credit: Leonardo-Finmeccanica)
The first radar has already flown on the first of 16 AW101 Merlins destined for search and rescue duties with the Royal Norwegian Air Force. The company has secured two more undisclosed customers in the U.S., for fixed-wing applications.
The three flat-panel antenna locations for the Osprey radar on the AW101 helicopter are indicated here. (photo: Finmeccanica) @ainonline.com
“We have been developing the Osprey for over three years using company funds,” said Brendan Nolan, the Edinburgh-based vice president, sales. “It complements the rest of our portfolio. It is easier to mount, having air-cooling and no pressurized waveguides.” On the Norwegian AW101, three antennas are separately located in the nose and on either side of the helicopter. The company says that space requirements are minimal, and with no need for a belly-mounted radome, the helicopter’s ground clearance is maximized “for challenging rescue landings on rough terrain.”
The antenna distribution is via a multi-array interface, while the radar’s other two black boxes are the receiver/exciter and the processor. Two- and four-antenna configurations are also possible. Each antenna weighs 11.3 kg (just under 25 pounds) and contains 256 Gallium Arsenide transmit/receive modules. Leonardo Reveals New Lightweight Surveillance Radar @ainonline.com
See details of HH-101A Caesar: HERE