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 radar and to attack the radar. ARMs can seriously affect one’s air defence.
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. Also, attempts were made to make the radar receiver system as sensitive as possible. This project was carried out in cooperation with 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, and 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 into this database was validated first with the Quick Look Validation (QLV) software tool developed by TNO. Moreover, the Netherlands supplied the universal radar jammer (URAS), fitted the Flycatcher radar for test flights with an F-16, and performed radar calibrations with an aluminium ball. Air Base Volkel was used for DART as the base for the test aircraft ground operations.
TNO was responsible for storing and combining data from the various DART components and the test aircraft and the conversion of the data into analysable data. The data was used for later analysis to investigate the properties of the DART radar, the URAS jammer and the effect on the ARM. This data system was called FLAMS (FEL Logging And Merging System).
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 centred 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 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 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.