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Hensoldt has been demonstrating the capabilities of its TWINVIS passive radar system when deployed for air traffic control (ATC) during a comprehensive measurement campaign, the company announced on 29 July.

A passive radar sensor cluster was installed at four sites in southern Germany for the tests, from which regional air traffic could be monitored and tracked in real time. This showed that passive radar systems can track aircraft with sufficient precision to be used for ATC. The sensors were positioned in Nuremberg, Roth, Erding and Ulm, while the data was processed centrally at Hensoldt’s Ulm site.

Passive radar systems detect aircraft by analysing the signals they reflect from existing third-party emissions. The TWINVIS system provides a comprehensive overview of the airspace covered, which is obtained by simultaneously analysing a large number of frequency bands. For example, up to 16 FM transmitters (analogue radio) plus five frequencies used by several DAB and DAB+ transmitters (digital radio) as well as DVB-T and DVB-T2 (digital terrestrial television) can be simultaneously analysed for the first time. Furthermore, new generation software provides high performance in terms of range and precision of detection.

In civil applications, passive radar systems make cost-effective ATC possible without any additional emissions and without using transmission frequencies, which are in short supply. In military applications, the system enables wide-area surveillance using networked receivers, while offering the advantage that passive radar systems cannot be located by the enemy and are very hard to jam. Moreover, no agreement is required with any other public authorities, as there is no radiation, which allows the system to be ready for rapid deployment to new locations and to be used in urban areas. The system can thus be used in places where coverage was previously inadequate – in mountainous regions, for example.

TWINVIS has shown its capabilities to military customers, air traffic control organisations and other interested parties: two TWINVIS demonstrators have already been delivered to potential customers in Europe.

Air situation picture provided by Hensoldt’s passive radar tracking system, which covers the air space of southern Germany. (Photo: Hensoldt)

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