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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

17 September 2015

Is it a bird or a UAV? Saab can tell you


Following on from its agreement with the UK Ministry of Defence in August this year to supply new Giraffe AMB (Agile Multi Beam) radars and to upgrade the existing capability of Giraffe radars to the latest standard, Saab has revealed that trials in the United States and the UK successfully demonstrated its ability to identify small unmanned aerial systems from birds.

Counter unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) trials were conducted using the Enhanced Low, Slow, and Small (ELSS) function of the radar.  In the UK, the trials were conducted in West Freugh, Scotland, over several days. Labelled the Bristow 15 trials, the targets had a radar cross-section as small as 0.001 square metres.

“The size of a small UAS to a bird is similar,” said Micael Johansson, Senior Vice President and Head of Business Area Electronic Defence Systems, but the system demonstrated that it could detect and positively identify the UAVs from the birds, thanks to software enhancements that analyse the tactical profiles of the objects under investigation. This happens in addition to the standard air surveillance mode. Over 100 of these small targets were tracked.

The Ministry of Defence will own a mix of 10 new and upgraded systems once all the work has been completed. The initial focus for Saab will be to deliver the new Giraffe AMBs beginning in a couple of years and then six months after that the legacy systems will be upgraded.

Through its long experience of supporting British forces on deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, Saab now regards the UK as a reference customer. It has improved the Giraffe radar over a decade’s worth of deployment in harsh conditions.

Johansson also stated that “the Giraffe 4A is now ready for production and delivery to the first customer (not European) is planned for the second quarter, 2016.” Giraffe 4A combines the Arthur weapon locating and Giraffe AMB families with a new radar sensor based on AESA (Active Electrically Scanned Array) technology.

Finally he added that Saab was continuing to invest in the Giraffe X1, a small lightweight 3D radar. There had been a high level of interest in the X1 and Johansson said that he expected it to be in production soon.
Andrew Drwiega