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.
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”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.