Critical to the performance of any synthetic aperture radar (SAR) system is accurate compensation for aircraft motion during the imaging aperture. This is thought to be particularly important for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) operating in poor weather conditions where the aircraft may be subject to pronounced turbulence effects. This paper presents some initial findings of an investigation into the effects of aircraft motion on SAR azimuth point spread function for given levels of motion spectrum suppression as supplied by the radar's motion compensation processing. With validation, this approach will allow indicative levels of SAR performance to be estimated over a wide range of operating conditions and hence provides a useful source of advice when considering procurement options.
The benefits of an all-weather day-night deep battlespace reconnaissance capability on a penetrating platform are introduced and synthetic aperture radar is identified as a sensor technology which may offer this capability. However, certain risks are apparent in synthetic aperture radar operation in this type of application. A program of applied research and technology demonstration has therefore been put in place to mitigate these risks. The program began with a radar design study phase, aimed at a pod-mounted system on a Tornado aircraft and guided by an outline radar requirement. The pod facility in which the radar will be carried is presented, along with the outline radar requirement, and followed by some general results of the kind of parametric analysis undertaken in the design study. Finally, some recent investigations into the effects of uncompensated aircraft motion on SAR image quality are given. In conclusion, the program is seen to be based on a very sound technical footing and should offer high quality, proven advice on the capability that this type of radar mounted on a fast jet reconnaissance aircraft can offer.