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BATTLESPACE Exhibition News
sponsored by QIOPTIQ and HARRIS


By Julian Nettlefold

16 Oct 14. The Editor’s ‘Star Technology Pick’ of AUSA must be the NanoSAR C, a small lightweight SRA radar designed for small and medium UAVs manufactured by ImSar, based in Springville, Utah, USA.

MSAR, LLC was formed in the State of Utah in 2004. IMSAS specializes in the research, development, and manufacture of lightweight, low-power Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) devices and radar image processing for both civilian and military applications. Our products and services are widely used by the United States military and in other parts of the world. The company has operated its products on a wide range of both manned and unmanned platforms including several Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) from Tier I to Tier III.

The core team at IMSAS created their first product, a 2lb. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), called the NanoSAR A and released it in 2009. NanoSAR A is an order of magnitude reduction in Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) and cost over other tactical radar systems. Building on this success, IMSAS continues to develop higher performance radar and supporting technologies. NanoSAR C, Viper LS, an Ethernet Switch, and the Falcon camera was released in late 2013.

Since the release of the first product, NanoSAR A, in 2009, IMSAS has continued to develop higher-performance radar and supporting technologies and has met escalating demands with high-volume production.

The NanoSAR C is the world’s smallest SAR, with the REI weighing only 1 lb and the entire assembly only 2 lbs it consumes less than 25 W. The NanoSAR C radar, turret, antenna, and cabling total less than 86 cu in, and can mount in a 7 inch diameter wing-mounted pod, or inside the aircraft fuselage, with room to spare allowing for other sensor payloads and extended system endurance.

NanoSAR C provides detailed real-time aerial radar images from a payload small and light enough to be mounted in a Tier I or II UAV. The radar is integrated with IMSAS’s Lisa Ground Station and Viper communication link to provide a cost-effective plug-and-play radar imaging solution. IMSAS’s NanoSAR C generates detailed real-time aerial radar images from a payload small and light enough to be mounted in a Tier I or II UAV. NanoSAR C is integrated with IMSAS’s Lisa Ground Station™ and Viper™ communication link to provide a cost-effective plug-and-play radar imaging solution. NanoSAR C can operate day or night, in rain, snow, fog, dust, or smoke. The NanoSAR C also communicates with Viper LS and Lisa Ground Station to enable real-time monitoring and control of NanoSAR C and real-time analysis of SAR data.

The NanoSAR payload is ideal for adverse weather conditions, capturing high-quality imagery in challenging conditions such as fog, haze, sandstorms and smoke. Manmade objects appear bright in imagery even in the worst atmospheric conditions. Like traditional radar, SAR uses echo waveforms to resolve targets. A radar pulse is emitted and the echo of that pulse is used to detect objects and to identify range. Multiple radar returns are then used to create high-resolution imagery.

In February 2010 Insitu announced the availability of NanoSAR, a tactical-level, synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) payload, for its ScanEagle dual bay and Integrator unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

“The armed forces now have an enhanced capability to identify and locate threats, which will save the lives of US and allied forces,” said Insitu Chief Technology Officer Charlie Guthrie. “This technology will allow mission commanders to own and control SAR assets at the tactical level.”

Insitu’s unmanned aircraft (UA) are equipped to accommodate many intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets including electro-optic cameras, infrared sensors, communications relay payloads and customer-specified payloads while maintaining long endurance. The NanoSAR payload can be integrated into ScanEagle dual-bay UA in the field without changing current ground control station hardware or support equipment. It will also be available as a payload option for Integrator. Insitu worked with IMSAS LLC in the development of NanoSAR for four years including two years of flight-testing.

“NanoSAR’s point-and-click geo-location feature provides rapid cross-queuing to on-board optics systems, which will allow Insitu’s UAS to conduct wider area searches even in extreme weather conditions,” said NanoSAR program manager at ImSas, Adam Robertson.

In April 2010, Following its plan to expand the former Killer-Bee platform it acquired from Swift Engineering in 2009 into a family of UAVs, last month Northrop Grumman flew the first in a new series of BAT unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

The unmanned vehicle that flew in January 2010 was the BAT-12, a new, 12-foot wingspan (3.65m') version powered by a German engine made by Göbler-Hirthmotoren, originally designed for ultra-light aircraft. The BAT-12 uses a five-blade propeller, contributing to low acoustic signature of the platform. The system was also tested with a new mission payload, comprising stabilized Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) and miniature Synthetic Aperture radar (NanoSAR).

Recently, the BAT has been integrated and tested with new payload comprising the T2 Delta dual payload micro-gimbal from Goodrich Corporation's Cloud Cap Technology Inc, mounting the short wave infrared (SWIR) camera from Goodrich and the Sentient Vision Systems' Kestral real-time moving target indicator. In February 2010 payload integration and testing was expanded to include ImSAR's Nano-SAR-B fused with Cloud Cap's T2 gimbal in a cursor-on-target acquisition mode.

During recent testing, the 12-foot and 10-foot (3.04m') wingspan Bats were successfully launched from a transportable launcher used for the AAI Shadow. The BATs were autonomously operated from a single ground control station before recovery via net. As a communications relay using Northrop Grumman's Software Defined Tactical Radio, BAT has also demonstrated its capacity to provide beyond line-of-sight tactical communications relay for ground forces in denied environments, a critical role in irregular warfare.

Paul Blackham of IMSAS explained the evolution of the NanoSAR C.

“U.S. Army researchers needed synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems for a variety of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems. They found their solution from us.”

Officials of the Army Contracting Command at Natick, Mass., then announced a $99 million contract to IMSAS in August 2014 for research and development, rapid advancement, and integration of small-aperture radars on small unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The Army Contracting Command-Natick supports the Army's Natick Soldier System Center (NSSC), which develops technologies for combat effectiveness and survivability for U.S. soldiers. U.S. Army researchers needed synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems for a variety of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems.

NanoSAR C is integrated with IMSAS’s Lisa ground station and Viper communication link, and operates day or night, in rain, snow, fog, dust, or smoke. IMSAS officials claim the NanoSAR C is the world’s smallest SAR.

Its radar, turret, antenna, and cabling total less than 86 cubic inches, and can mount in a 7-inch-diameter wing-mounted pod, or inside the aircraft fuselage.

The next day after our visit to IMSAS’s Booth we were told by another contractor that IMSAS had recently won a $100 million contract, they kept that quiet from the media! A Company spokesman confirmed that a contract had been won but would not reveal details.

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