Northrop Grumman has been awarded a contract worth $5.6 million (€4.1 million), as of 15th September, to perform work on the Video Synthetic Aperture Radar (ViSAR) programme orchestrated by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The company will construct and test a prototype ViSAR radar as part of the initiative led by L3 Communications’ Electron Devices division.
L-3 was awarded a contract by DARPA worth $2.6 million (€1.9 million) in July to perform the ViSAR design and development programme.
The ViSAR initiative intends to develop a SAR radar which can perform target identification through cloud and other battlefield obscurants to enable United States Air Force AC-130H/U Spectre/Spooky-II fixed-wing gunships to engage targets in bad weather or dusty conditions. This would have the added advantage of enabling the gunship to use such conditions to mask the aircraft from ground-to-air fire.
Ultimately, the ViSAR sensor is intended to compensate for shortfalls in the performance of the infra-red sensors which AC-130s routinely carry which can be disrupted by obscurants in the atmosphere. Once developed, the ViSAR sensor could be housed on the aircraft in an external pod mounting.