Electronic Weapons: April 17, 2001


NATO nations are pursuing three different systems for an airborne ground-surveillance radar. The US is evolving its JSTARS technology into NATAR (NATO Transatlantic Advanced Radar). Several smaller NATO countries have signed on, including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Norway. The British have their own ASTOR (Airborne Stand-Off Radar) system. The French and Germans, backed by the Dutch, Italians, and Spanish, are developing a separate system known as SOSTAR (Stand-Off Surveillance and Target Acquisition Radar). This won't fly until 2005 or enter service until 2007. It will use a synthetic aperture radar with a moving target indicator. The antenna is scalable, so the same system could be fitted to large aircraft, medium aircraft, medium helicopters such as NH90, or unmanned drones. In a sense, this group is simply re-inventing what they could buy from the US or Britain, but the Franco-German alliance refuses to accept the US radar because the US will not hand over all of the associated technologies. They feel that even if it means getting a system that isn't any better into service half a decade late, they should have a foothold in that technology. The alternative is to effectively abandoning the field to the Americans and being forced to buy American technology for the infinite future.--Stephen V Cole 


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