Radar: Demonstration of Advanced Radar Techniques (DART) project (1988 – 1990)

Demonstration of Advanced Radar Techniques (DART) project (1988 – 1990)

The purpose of the NATO AC243 air defence project DART was to develop a radar that was as insensitive as possible to the threat of being attacked by Anti Radiation Missiles (ARMs). ARMs have the property to focus on the emitted energy by a radar and to attack it. ARMs can seriously affect one’s air defence.

The DART logo
The DART logo

The term Advanced Techniques in the project title meant the application of the most modern radar techniques, including a pencil shaped radar beam and the non-continuous emission of the radar beam. In addition, attempts were made to make the radar receiver system as sensitive as possible. This project was carried out in cooperation of Great Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. Great Britain was the project manager and managed the DART installation and the ARM simulation. The US supplied the main and auxiliary antennas, the Advanced Flyable Generic ARM Seeker (AFGAS) simulation, a T-33 aircraft with an ARM viewfinder. France supplied a transmitter and frequency synthesizer, the DART receiver and simulation, and software. Italy provided a signal processor. The Netherlands provided the DART test location (De Peel Airfield) and created a database with the DART radar performance data as well as the ARM and URAS transmissions. The data to be entered in this database was validated first with the Quick Look Validation (QLV) software tool developed by TNO. In addition, the Netherlands supplied the universal radar jammer (URAS) and fitted the Flycatcher radar for test flights with an F-16, and performed radar calibrations with an aluminum ball. Air Base Volkel was used for DART as the base for the test aircraft ground operations.

DART-radar at its cabine at the De Peel
DART-radar at its cabine at the De Peel

 

One of the two decoy radars of the DART system
One of the two decoy radars of the DART system

TNO was responsible for storing and combining data from the various DART components and the test aircraft and the conversion of the data into well analysable data. The data was used for later analysis to investigate the properties of the DART radar, the URAS jammer and the effect upon the ARM. This data system was called FLAMS (FEL Logging And Merging System).

FLAMS integration of many data sources
FLAMS integration of many data sources

 

FLAMS process
FLAMS process

Before the collected data were made available to the participating countries, the data had to be analysed first for usability using the Quick Look Validation (QLV) tool developed by TNO. This tool consisted of a display showing the DART environment of approximately 12 by 12 km centered around the De Peel airfield. The tool was built on top of the Graphical Kernel System (GKS) program package. The display shows the surroundings of the airport with the towns of Venray and Helmond, meadows and forests, waterways and height contours of the landscape. The flight path of the F-16 was registered with a modified Flycatcher system. The Pass-Sequence number, date, start time and stop time were added to the data from the Flycatcher. The data of each used system, such as URAS, could also be shown on the display. The result of the assessment with the QLV tool was stored in the DART tests (Oracle) database. The validated data were made available to each DART participant.

The surroundings of De Peel airfield with an F-16 track
The surroundings of De Peel airfield with an F-16 track

 

The radar of the Flycatcher in use as a DART track measuring radar
The radar of the Flycatcher in use as a DART track measuring radar

The ARMs in use at the time, such as the AGM-45 Shrike, were not particularly intelligent. They used the radar bundle as guidance to the target and exploded in its vicinity.