FAA ISO Super Radar

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The FAA is in search of one future radar system that will do the job today it takes eight radar systems to do.

The agency on October 18th will gather industry experts to explain its ideas for developing such a system, and describe what’s been done to date on its next generation surveillance and weather radar.

Not just for aviation, the next generation radar will ideally track weather, cooperating traffic and “uncooperative” traffic, replacing eight unique types of radar systems that do the work, says MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, which is studying the concept.

Four of the eight radar types – the ASR 8, 9, and 11 and Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) – will shortly reach the end of their design lives, and will require costly service life extension programs, says the FAA.

One promising solution to the problem would be to deploy a single network of multi-function phased array radars (MPARs), a network that could reduce the number of radar installations covering the continental US by one-third.

“This streamlining of the nation’s ground-based weather and aircraft surveillance systems could potentially save the government billions of dollars over the lifetime of the radars,” says the FAA.

While MPARs are promising as a solution on paper (and are the coolest solution in my opinion), the FAA cautions that the technology “presents the greatest technical, cost, and schedule risk” compared to other solutions it might be pondering.

That’s where it hopes industry will be able to help.

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