Euronaval: Thales Launches New Ultra-Compact Radar for HIL Guépard Helicopter
The AirMaster C has already been chosen for the French joint light helicopter HIL Guépard that will equip the French Navy, Army and Air Force. According to Thales video, it seems like up to three antennas could be integrated into this military version of the Airbus H160 helicopter.
Thales Press Release
AirMaster C: the new ultra-compact radar from Thales
- The AirMaster C is the latest airborne surveillance radar from Thales and has a 30% lower SWaP (size, weight and power) than the other radars in its class.
- The AirMaster C covers the full spectrum of land, air and maritime surveillance missions and offers state-of-the-art target detection capabilities; it is the subject of preliminary integration studies on joint light helicopter (Guépard) which are in progress.
- Users benefit from innovative technologies, with a unique 2D AESA antenna based on SiGe (silicon-germanium) technology, and cognitive and predictive maintenance capabilities drawing on Thales’s and the French Armament General Directorate’s investments in artificial intelligence.
“Monitor, control and protect anywhere, across land, coastline, sea and airspace”
Threat detection, identification and surveillance missions depend on a force’s ability to operate in any type of environment and all weather conditions. Drawing on its experience with the successful Master series of radars, Thales has developed a new, ultra-compact surveillance radar with enhanced target detection capabilities for fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and UAVs. With its low integration and operating costs and high availability and performance, the AirMaster C sets a new standard for airborne radars.
The nature of armed confrontation is constantly evolving. From the intrastate conflicts of the post-Cold War period to the asymmetric threats of the early 21st century and, more recently, the resurgence of rivalries between major powers, armed forces around the world must constantly adapt as they face different types of adversaries in a diverse array of environments: open ocean, coastal areas, remote deserts and urban spaces.
AirMaster C: a concentrate of new technologies
Responding to these rapid changes, Thales has developed the AirMaster C, a new surveillance radar with an ultra-compact, programmable 2D active antenna based on SiGe (silicon-germanium) technology. SiGe is much more energy efficient than other technologies used for AESA radars, and allows the radar to self-cool. Weighing less than 20 kilograms and housed in a single unit design, the radar has a 30% lower SWaP (size, weight and power) than the other radars in this class.
In addition to this breakthrough SiGe technology, other innovations are deployed. Multi-polarisation (a capability displayed by many cameras) will allow the radar to automatically select the optimal settings to maximise detection performance on each mission. The radar also offers a simultaneous short-range and long-range detection capability, similar to the human eye, for instantaneous surveillance. With its 2D navigation and weather modes, the AirMaster C will also provide valuable navigation support in all types of environments and weather conditions.
The AirMaster C is a smart software-defined radar designed to reduce aircrew workload. With its autonomous sensors, self-learning functionality and the ability to analyse and classify huge volumes of data, the radar can automatically adapt to different uses, terrains and environments. The AirMaster C builds on the innovative design and proven success of the Master series.
Notified by the French Armament General Directorate (DGA), preparatory studies are being carried out by Thales in collaboration with Airbus Helicopters for the integration of the AirMaster C on board the Guépard helicopter. This is the future light joint army helicopter, which will have to carry out a wide variety of missions for the three French armies.
“We’re proud to present the latest addition to the Thales family of airborne surveillance radars, the AirMaster C, which meets the full range of current and future operational requirements. With this new product, Thales offers an optimised surveillance solution for a broader array of platform types and operators, ensuring they benefit from the highest levels of mission performance as they face the new challenges ahead.”
Hervé Hamy, Vice President for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), Thales
Naval News comments
The HIL Guépard, in its naval version, will be able to carry the Sea Venom/ANL anti-ship missiles. Instead of a unique panoramic radar underbelly, it was stated at the begining of the program that the Guépard will be equipped with several AESA antennas, offering a 360° detection coverage around the helicopter.
With a 20 kg weight and low power consumption, the new AirMaster C will perfectly fulfill this role. According to Thales video, an AirMaster C antenna will be integrated into the Guépard nose. But some of Thales’ visuals show that two other antennas will –or could– be integrated in the rear flanks of the helicopter. Thus, with three AirMaster C antennas, the naval variant of the Guépard will be able to provide 360° surveillance, designate targets off-boresight for the Sea Venom/ANL and probably offer mid-course guidance for long range antiship missiles (i.e. Exocet) fired from a surface ship.
This multimode radar being integrated on the Air Force and Army variants of the Guépard, the Marine Nationale’s HIL will likely retain excellent air-to-ground surveillance capabilities. A very good news for the special operation forces deployed from the French navy frigates, but also for humanitarian and rescue operations performed from the sea.