Leading Radar Technologies
Sep 15, 2007

While commercial aircraft of the future may fly and land with the benefit of many new technologies, one technology that will likely be around for many years is Primary Surveillance Radar (PSR) – pulse-Doppler radars that provide ­target range, speed and bearing – information that is independent of the aircraft’s onboard transponder.

In a world where terrorism often ­targets air travel, having effective surveillance radar means being able to see an aircraft even after its transponder has been switched off. Air traffic controllers today depend on radar as the only reliable source of information about an aircraft’s whereabouts, therefore, radar technology will continue to play a critical role in national security.

Continual investment in product improvement has helped Canada secure recent large contracts with such customers as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and United States Air Force (USAF). Canada invests heavily in research and development to ensure that its radar technology remains at the cutting edge.

PSR products are based on two main product configurations: the S-Band, used primarily for airport surveillance, and L-Band, which is used for airport and long range en-route surveillance. Canada produces the highest performing ATC radars in the world.

Canada has continuously improved Primary Surveillance Radar technology through the introduction of enhancements in performance and reliability through the use of solid-state transmitters, expandable signal processors which use sophisticated processing algorithms and numerous other features. This commitment to perpetual product improvement has elevated Canada as the world leader in supply of solid state Primary Surveillance Radars for more than 20 years.

Countries currently fielding Canadian Air Traffic Control Radars.

High production rates ensure product stability and support through the entire life cycle of the delivered system. It also permits manufacturing efficiencies, and offers the benefits of ongoing development work that fuels product improvement.

Primary Radar Surveillance is critical in most countries. In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration’s en-route radars are nearing the end of their service life. In 2006, the FAA initiated its Long Range Radar Service Life Extension program. Raytheon Company was chosen to manufacture, test and deploy up to 68 new solid-state transmitter systems to replace aging tube-based transmitters in long range surveillance radars, thus extending the service life of these facilities by another 20 years.

It’s safe to say that upgrading or replacing aging surveillance radars with newer, solid state systems and vastly improved signal processing and reliability, will soon become a high priority in countries all over the world. With advanced expertise in this area, Canada will continue to lead the world in this important technology – keeping the skies safe.

Homeland Security for the Maritime Domain
Leveraging its knowledge of radar signal processing, Canada is now a leading supplier of coastal surveillance technology. The newly developed Marine Small Target Tracker (MSTT), designed in Waterloo, Ontario, is capable of seeing small human-sized targets and small boats at 3-6 miles from the shoreline in heavy seas. With this small target tracking technology, incorporating advanced signal processing, adaptive threshold control, and true multiple-hypothesis tracking, Canada has won major awards in Spain and Netherlands Antilles.

A clear acknowledgement of Canadian expertise in this area is the contract from the Royal Netherlands Navy to build an integrated coastal surveillance radar network on the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, including long-term maintenance and training. The system will enable the precision monitoring of marine traffic in the waters around the Dutch Caribbean. It will be used primarily for search and rescue and drug interdiction, but it will also help combat illegal immigration. This system will leverage the same small target tracking technology Raytheon Canada supplied in Spain to monitor the Straits of Gibraltar.

High Frequency Surface Wave Radar (HFSWR) is a good example of the newest developments in radar technology. Developed by DRDC (Defence R&D Canada), the Research & Development organization of Canada’s Department of National Defence, together with industry partners such as Raytheon Canada in Waterloo, Ontario, and Northern Radar in St. John’s, Newfoundland, this over-the-horizon radar can monitor vast areas of ocean for the persistent surveillance of all ship traffic within a nation’s 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone.

A key technology in the development of a recognized maritime picture, HFSWR is the only system that can provide continuous, persistent surveillance, 24/7 of the waters in the EEZ. Without it there would be no other way to continuously monitor Canada’s fishing interests on the Grand Banks, which would leave our nation vulnerable to illegal fishing activities.

Canada leads the world in this type of radar development. HFSWR will soon be deployed in Asia, Africa and Europe.

FSWR antenna array located at Cape Bonavista, Newfoundland. Sea surveillance out to 200 nautical miles is possible for all ship traffic from a site such as this one. (Photo: DRDC Ottawa)

By monitoring fishing grounds such as the Grand Banks and other lucrative areas, fisheries protection organizations will have a powerful tool in the interdiction of illegal fishing vessels. This technology will undoubtedly prove to be one of the most important in protecting our planet’s fisheries for future generations.

Northern Sovereignty
In Canada’s far north, above 80° north ­latitude where satellite communication is not possible, DND has installed six remote microwave repeater sites to link CFS Eureka with CFS Alert on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island. Each site consumes only 22 watts of power and operates unattended with very little annual maintenance required. Radio frequency engineering expertise helped develop microwave radios for DND’s High Arctic Data Communications II program. The Raytheon system has survived its fourth winter in the high arctic without fail.

This technology can form the basis of Canada’s communications infrastructure elsewhere in the high arctic, and can help support remote outposts and bolster Canadian sovereignty in the north.

Whether it be for persistent surveillance of national economic exclusion zones to protect our shores from terrorists or to monitor illegal fishing, Canada leads the world in cost effective radar technology for Homeland Security and air traffic control. Continued investment and R&D commitment will help build on existing levels expertise, ensuring that Canada remains at the technological forefront, contributing to the national security of ourselves and our allies.

Greg Westfall has worked around the world on many of Raytheon Canada’s Airspace Management and Homeland Security projects. He is presently the Marketing Manager for International Radar Programs in Waterloo, Ontario.
© FrontLine Defence 2007