US Army Spy Plane Can Detect Moving Targets Using Ground and Dismount Indications

Source: US Army

The US Army has received delivery of the productionized version of the Long Range Radar-Enhanced (LRR-E) prototype. According to the Project Director Sensors-Aerial Intelligence (PD SAI) Program Manager Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (PM MARSS), the LRR-E is capable of detecting moving targets using two types of Moving Target Indications (MTIs): Ground Moving Target Indications (GMTIs) to scan for larger types of targets – such as vehicles; and Dismount Moving Target Indications (DMTI) to focus on smaller targets – such as people.

“While scanning an area, the operator will see dots overlaid on a map that registers the target’s location,” said Bryan Farley, LRR Lead for PM MARSS. “Using Radar Cross Section (RCS) indication, the operator can determine how big a target might be, how reflective it might be, and how fast it may be going.”

Along with dual MTIs, the LRR-E is capable of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) which provides three dimensional radio frequency spectrum representation of the physical environment. Another unique feature is the lack of a gimbaled antenna.

“This change provides a few purposes,” Farley said. “Because they are mechanical, gimbals tend to break. If there are fewer parts on a sensor that can break, fewer parts will need to be replaced. It also allows operators to place their beams wherever they want, instantaneously.”

PD SAI plans to build three LRR-E systems and install them onto three Airborne Reconnaissance Low-Enhanced (ARL-E) aircraft this year. LRR-E’s design was based on the Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar (VADER). VADER uses a Ku-band radio frequency, while the LRR-E uses an X-band frequency that enables it to produce much longer detection ranges.

“Compared to VADER, the LRR-E pod is 3.5 feet (~1 meter) longer and weighs more than twice as much,” said Matt Perry, ARL-E Assistant Product Manager. “Since the ARL-E is a bigger platform compared to other platforms within the PD SAI portfolio, it is able to handle the bigger LRR-E sensor.”