Meteksan Defence MILSAR SAR/GMTI Radar Provides Outstanding Capabilities to Tactical UAVs

MILSAR generate radar images up to 30cm resolution from 27km.

January 14, 2021

Meteksan Defence product MILSAR SAR/GMTI Radar, which was exhibited for the first time at IDEF ‘19 Fair, is designed to incorporate the features of the best products in its segment (I-MASTER and similar).

MILSAR, which is a multi-functional radar system with SAR and GMTI Modes, initially had different technical specifications (Ka-Band and 10km range). However, after a new system with upper segment SAR/GMTI radar features was requested by both the SSB and other UAV platform manufacturers, including Baykar Defence, Meteksan Defence made significant improvements in the MILSAR's SAR/GMTI Radar feature set under a contract amendment. After a change in the contract, the frequency range of MILSAR was changed (Ku-Band), its range was increased (27km), resulting in a product that is lighter than its competitors. According to the information we received, MILSAR, which is stated to have similar performance characteristics to equivalent products despite its lightweight, can generate radar images up to 30cm resolution from 27km. Having the same mechanical interface as the standard 15-inch EO/IR FLIR turret (in this way, MILSAR can be installed instead of EO/IR payload when necessary), MILSAR provides Tactical UAVs with 360-degree scanning and surveillance capability regardless of weather conditions.

MILSAR can operate in Strip or Spot Modes like other SAR systems and can produce images at 1m resolution in Strip Mode and display them to the operator in near real-time. The bandwidth required for transferring images to the Ground Control Stations (GCS) and headquarters is compatible with existing UAV data links, TSKNet, and TAFICS infrastructures. During an operation, a significant portion of the bandwidth remains available to transmit other flight and mission data while SAR/GMTI data is transferred. Furthermore, Meteksan Defence also offers its newly developed C-Band Data Link as a solution considering the future developments in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle subsystems. With the C-Band Data Link, which can share data up to 13Mb per second at a range of over 200km and provides reliable communication with its frequency hopping/spread spectrum feature (FHSS&DSSS), the bandwidth that can be allocated for this task can be increased even further.

Additionally, MILSAR can generate 30cm resolution images of the target area in Spot Mode, and Meteksan Defence is currently working with Bilkent University to provide MILSAR with the Coherent Change Detection (CCD) feature. The ground segment of the MILSAR System, which can produce SAR/GMTI images on its own during the flight/mission and display it to the operator, also incorporates image processing software that will run the Coherent Change Detection (CCD) feature. MILSAR tracks moving targets on the ground thanks to its GMTI capability and will also have Maritime Moving Target Indicator (MMTI) Mode as an option. A Meteksan Defence representative, that we had the opportunity to meet at the IDEF ’19 Fair, stated in response to our question that the system does not have ISAR Mode currently, but the first prototype of MILDAR has the ISAR feature, so they have the necessary algorithms for this capability. The Meteksan Defence official said, “ISAR is a software add-on. We can add ISAR capability to MILSAR with a software upgrade, but it is not included in the contract requirements.” Although tactical UAVs were initially considered to be the carrier platform for MILSAR, the system can also be used with EO/R FLIR payloads in larger class UAVs such as AKINCI and AKSUNGUR or a Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA). The Meteksan Defence representative also had stated that they aimed to start flight tests with MILSAR in August 2019. In this context, the company carried out meetings with Baykar Defence and Turkish Aerospace regarding the flight tests. Meteksan Defence considered the ANKA MALE UAV or BAYRAKTAR TB2 Tactical UAV depending on the schedule of the UAV manufacturers, or S-2E/T aircraft as test platforms at that time. Eventually, Meteksan Defence also added the Turkish Aeronautical Association’s ‘test-bed’ Cessna aircraft, which has a suitable mounting point for MILSAR, among its platform alternatives for use in engineering tests. 

Meteksan Defence started the development studies of MILSAR in 2007 within the scope of the MILDAR Program. MILSAR, a unique design of Meteksan Defence, incorporates several innovations, especially in power amplification. A highly advanced antenna design is used in MILSAR, which is designed as a "single replaceable unit" and has a very compact structure. The company aims to re-use this antenna design in its Helicopter MILDAR product. Furthermore, as MILSAR is required to be light, it is designed to be air-cooled. Although an active fan-based cooling system would allow MILSAR to operate in higher temperature ranges than passive air cooling, this would increase both power consumption and weight of the system.