Brownout Radar Beamforming Using Electronically Reconfigurable Apertures
Navy SBIR FY2008.2

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2008.2
Topic No.: N08-124
Topic Title: Brownout Radar Beamforming Using Electronically Reconfigurable Apertures
Proposal No.: N082-124-0567
Firm: Information Systems Laboratories, Inc.
10070 Barnes Canyon Road
San Diego, California 92121-2722
Contact: Paul Techau
Phone: (703) 269-3613
Web Site:
Abstract: In a number of arid regions of the world, recirculation of dust by the rotorwash of helicopters results in the loss of visual cues during helicopter approach and landing. This condition is typically referred to as brownout. This is a serious problem for all services and leads to numerous aircraft and personnel losses in Afghanistan and Iraq. The effectiveness of the conventional approach of using spotters positioned in aircraft doorways to call out and maintain clearance from obstacles has obvious limitations, especially in the most degraded visual environments. An "Electronic Bumper" system would detect and track major obstacles including other aircraft in flight during brownout and virtually all low/no visibility approach and landing. An active RF system is preferred, one operating at high-enough frequency and bandwidth to provide the needed system resolution. SNC's electronically reconfigurable aperture (ERA) technology is ideally suited to this task. ERA is a patented electronically steerable array technology that has been demonstrated at across the range of frequencies of interest. This proposal describes the development of an antenna and beamformer architecture that provides functionality required for use in brownout radar systems.
Benefits: Successful completion of this program will result in a radar antenna system and beamforming arhictecture that is suitable for use with brownout radars that increase helicopter pilot situational awareness and provide sufficient advance warning of landing/take off hazards in a degraded visual environment (DVE). Other platforms that will benefit include commercial helicopters operating in urban environments in bad weather (fog, snow) as well as search and rescue helicopters operating in inclement weather would greatly benefit from the technology. In addition, the technology can be adapted for use on crop dusters and other low-flying aircraft.