COMPACT ANTENNA AND RADAR CROSS SECTION TEST RANGE
MBDA in Schrobenhausen houses different laboratories where technicians and engineers study missile characteristics and capabilities. The Compact Test Range is one of them. Here, engineers examine fields of antennas in the frequency range from 1 to one hundred GHz. In addition, it is possible to measure how bodies reflect or absorb electromagnetic fields. The radar cross section (RCS) describes how a body reflects electromagnetic fields in the radar wavelength range. Knowledge of this cross section is fundamental to using a radar to detect and track objects. This knowledge is valuable for both civil and military applications.
CIVIL AND MILITARY APPLICATION
For example, for civilian maritime safety, it is important to be detected - not only in bright sunlight but also in the frequency range of radars at long distances, in fog and rough seas. That is why yachts are equipped with radar reflectors that provide a strong signature in a radar image. To check how strong this signature really is, such radar reflectors are examined in a Compact Test Range. This ensures that even a smaller boat or yacht can be easily detected on the radar image at a greater distance.
In military applications, on the other hand, it is usually important to remain undetected. For this purpose, a missile must leave as small a radar signature as possible. In the test range, technicians can also investigate how small this signature is in different frequency ranges and different positions.
COMPACT TEST RANGE AND KNOW-HOW FOR CUSTOMERS
The laboratory earns its name Compact because it uses a parabolic mirror that reflects the radar field of an antenna and, due to its parabolic design, generates a field that corresponds to that of an antenna at a great distance. At the same time, the characteristic absorbers suppress interference fields caused by reflections. In the picture, these absorbers are clearly visible on the walls of the test chamber.
MBDA uses the facility for its own products but also offers the equipment and know-how to other companies and partners. These customers include for example ESA and Emerson & Cuming Anechoic Chambers (world leader in the design and manufacture of RF absorbers and anechoic chambers). ECAC Sales & Marketing Responsible , Ellen Matthys, : “I would like to thank MBDA Germany for the incredible support they have given us in measuring our absorbers. Looking forward to our next joint project.”
Maik Middendorf, who holds a doctorate in physics, is responsible for the laboratory at MBDA: "It is always exciting to see how an image of the examined body is calculated from the measurements. Similar to computer tomography in medicine, we can examine here very precisely how a body looks in three dimensions."
DATA ACQUISITION AND IMAGE PROCESSING
Powerful post-processing software is required to evaluate the data acquired in the test range; it provides visualization and analysis of the measurement data. MBDA mainly uses 2 systems: MBDA ISAR and MBDA FAFTA .
ISAR stands for Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar and is a technique that uses radar imaging to produce high resolution 2D or 3D images of an object. Unlike Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) technology where the radar source is moved to provide a larger aperture and thus better image resolution, ISAR uses the motion of the object to achieve the higher image resolution.
In the Compact Test Range, antenna arrays can also be measured. In this case, MBDA FAFTA (Fast Antenna Field Transformation Algorithm) is used. The Fast Antenna Field Transformation Algorithm calculates the corresponding antenna radiation source and the current densities on the antenna surface from the far-field measurement data. Thanks to an innovative formulation of the inverse electromagnetic problem, FAFTA is the first software that can reconstruct authentic equivalent electromagnetic current distributions and extreme near-fields on an antenna under test from antenna measurement data (near-field, far-field).
Research & Technology
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