Advanced Dual Use En-Route Radar
Today at the Paris Air Show, Thales launched the TRAC NG, which the company describes as, “the world’s most advanced dual-use civil/military en-route radar.” Derived from its STAR NG approach radar, TRAC NG responds to the need to extend primary surveillance across en-route segments in ever more congested airspaces and facilitates more effective monitoring of secured military airspaces.
TRAC NG is an L-Band primary radar with a range up to 250nm, perfectly tailored to serve as an effective system to guarantee primary surveillance across large tracks of en-route airspace. It has already won two customers, including the Brazilian armed forces, which are responsible for all aspects of national air traffic management (ATM).
Primary surveillance radars are the most ubiquitous tools used by ATM operators to identify aircraft position, speed and vector. Unlike secondary radars, which rely on the aircraft transmitting information through their radar transponder, a primary radar always knows its target’s location and heading. Historically this functionality was mainly required when aircraft were approaching airports, but with increased traffic volumes and more congested skies, the ATM industry has been working to make primary surveillance available beyond approach and through to en-route segments, in order to better optimise airspace.
Just like STAR NG, it is a fully dual civil/military system, offering as options both altimetry and the ability to track fast and slow targets such as helicopters, or small targets like UAVs. In addition, it can include specific military features such as frequency agility, jammer strobe detection and least jammed frequency selector, making it better hardened against electronic countermeasures than any other civilian radar.
The use of TRAC NG presents some very concrete benefits that reduce lifecycle cost. Several unique aspects make it a very attractive proposition to both civilian and military users. Its compact design architecture optimises power consumption and enables easier site installation. It has a much-improved power budget, system stability, dynamic range and instantaneous bandwidth that allows it to increase detection performance, as well as signal-to-clutter ratio and false alarm management functionalities that make it harder to confuse the radar even during complex operations. TRAC NG also features improved windfarm filters and interference map spectrum. A large commonality of spare parts, software and support tools with other radars such as STAR NG and RSM enables the reduction of inventories, training and documentation, resulting clear economic benefits including reduced lifecycle cost.