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ESC radar program moves forward

This image of an extinct volcano crater in southern California was taken during system level verification test flights of the Block 40 Global Hawk Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program sensor on the Proteus surrogate aircraft. It shows the radar's ability to show terrain features in high detail. (U.S. Air Force image)

This image of an extinct volcano crater in southern California was taken during system level verification test flights of the Block 40 Global Hawk Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program sensor on the Proteus surrogate aircraft. It shows the radar's ability to show terrain features in high detail. (U.S. Air Force image)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFNS) -- The Electronic Systems Center's Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program recently reached a significant milestone when the sensor and first software baseline were delivered to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for the next step -- integration on a Global Hawk aircraft.

MP-RTIP increases warfighters' situational awareness through improved radar imagery. Flight testing up to this point has been performed in Mojave, Calif., on a scaled composites test bed aircraft, known as "Proteus."  A total of 259 test flights were completed, with 1,062 hours of radar "on" time.

"We have made significant progress in the development of the sensor and are pleased with its performance," said Col. Jim Shaw, the MP-RTIP program director. "The ground moving target indicator and synthetic aperture radar dedicated modes are working, and we are ready to move into the next phase of system test."

"Dedicated modes" refers to GMTI and SAR functioning independently and serially. "Concurrent modes" refers to GMTI and SAR running simultaneously. The software delivered to the Global Hawk program includes concurrent mode functionality. Nine additional contractor development tests and evaluation flights on Proteus are planned to continue to improve the performance of concurrent radar modes.

It has been "technically challenging" to get the concurrent modes up and running, Colonel Shaw said. Concurrent modes ensure that warfighters can collect SAR data without interrupting GMTI tracks.

"We are giving the warfighter improved capabilities," he said.

MP-RTIP capability was operationally demonstrated for the Army during a recent ground exercise at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif. The MP-RTIP sensor was flown to demonstrate its unique capabilities in an operationally relevant environment.

"Several members of the Operations Group at the NTC were pretty happy with what they saw," Colonel Shaw said.

After the concurrent mode testing is completed, the MP-RTIP team at the ESC will move into a support role, and the Global Hawk Program Office at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, will have the lead. The ESC team was responsible for system design and development, and MP-RTIP is now moving to integration and test on a Global Hawk aircraft.

"We have done a lot of work to lessen any risks associated with the integration to Global Hawk," the colonel said. "It's designed to be a seamless transition."

As the ground integration and flight testing on Global Hawk is scheduled to occur in the near future, the ESC government and contractor teams will be engaged throughout the entire process, providing detailed insight into radar operations and performance.

"A lot of great people have put a lot of great work into this program to get us to this point," Colonel Shaw said. "We wouldn't have been able to get here without their dedication."

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