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Thales unveils new compact AESA radar for helicopters, UAVs

Defense technology major Thales has unveiled its new AirMaster C airborne surveillance radar, touting a 30% lower size, weight and power compared to other radars in its class.

The company says the AirMaster C covers the full spectrum of land, air and maritime surveillance missions, and features a 2D AESA antenna based on SiGe (silicon-germanium) technology. It also benefits from cognitive and predictive maintenance capabilities drawing on Thales’s and the French Armament General Directorate’s artificial intelligence research.

The company revealed that AirMaster C is the subject of preliminary integration studies on the Cheetah joint light helicopter (Guépard) that is being developed by Airbus for the French armed forces.

Airbus photo of the H160 model that will serve as the basis for the French Cheetah helicopter

In addition to helicopters, the “ultra-compact” surveillance radar (it weighs less than 20 kilograms according to the company, and is housed in a single unit design) can be employed by fixed-wing aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles.

As the company further explained, multi-polarization (a capability displayed by many cameras) will allow the radar to automatically select the optimal settings to maximize detection performance. The radar also offers a simultaneous short-range and long-range detection capability, similar to the human eye, for instantaneous surveillance. What is more, Thales says the AirMaster C can also provide navigation support with its 2D navigation and weather modes.

“With this new product, Thales offers an optimized surveillance solution for a broader array of platform types and operators, ensuring they benefit from the highest levels of mission performance as they face the new challenges ahead,” Hervé Hamy, Thales vice president for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), commented.

AirMaster C. Photo: Thales