Thales has conducted a test flight of its I-Master radar system on a Diamond DA42 Multi-Purpose Platform (MPP) Guardian aircraft in collaboration with Diamond Aircraft Industries and Diamond Airborne Sensing at its facility in Wiener Neustadt, Austria.
Carried out using different radar modes at a range of altitudes and speeds, the week-long tests used the onboard payload for transmission of full-resolution radar images and electro-optical / infrared footage through a high-bandwidth line-of-sight data link to the ground station controllers.
Thales UK Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance vice president Eddie Awang said I-Master is designed to offer an advanced capability in a lightweight payload, which can be easily installed or swapped between aircraft.
"We believe that the combination with the Diamond DA42 is particularly attractive, and meets an increased need for cost-effective, light, manned ISR platforms," Awang added.
Diamond Airborne Sensing Sales Director Markus Fischer said the radar’s ease of installation, along with outstanding performance, will open up sales opportunities for the company.
”It is now no longer necessary to operate an expensive and cost-inefficient heavy platform to gather data from different sensors,” Fischer added.
Weighing 30kg, I-Master is a high-performance radar designed to provide ground moving target indication (GMTI) and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) capability for all-weather surveillance and targets detection and recognition missions at long stand-off ranges.
GMTI is primarily used for the detection of moving targets, ranging from high-speed vehicles to systems moving at a walking pace, while SAR capability enables long-range stand-off image collection even under adverse and low visibility conditions.
DA42MPP NG is a twin-engine aircraft and is designed for carrying interchangeable multi-function sensor equipment.
Image: A DA42MPP Guardian aircraft during its flight. Photo: Courtesy of Thales Group.