NUAIR Alliance UTM tests to include Raytheon low-power radar

04 May 2018
A Raytheon low-power radar (LPR) tracks an unmanned aerial vehicle during proof-of-concept testing near Boulder, Colorado, in April. Source: Raytheon

Raytheon Intelligence, Information, and Services is assisting the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research (NUAIR) Alliance in testing safe and secure UAS traffic management (UTM) procedures in New York State.

A five-year project, called UAS Secure Autonomous Flight Environment (U-SAFE), began in 2015 with USD250 million in funding from the State of New York and assistance from NASA.

Phase One of U-SAFE involves UAS flights in a safe corridor extending about 80 km from Syracuse to Griffiss International Airport. Griffiss is one of seven sites approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) under its Pathfinder initiative, which targets safe integration of unmanned aerial system (UAS) into the National Airspace System.

Meanwhile, NASA is also working with the NUAIR Alliance on Technology Capability Level (TCL) tests for UTM.

A Raytheon spokesperson confirmed to Jane’s that its compact (1 m 2 ) active electronically scanned array (AESA) low-power radar (LPR) “will support all projects involved in the NUAIR airspace to include U-SAFE and NASA TCL tests”. Multiple flat LPR panels can be networked to scan airspace continuously for small targets such as UASs.

"The New York airspace corridor is the first-of-its kind, but it won't be the last,” said Matt Gilligan, Raytheon vice-president of navigation and weather solutions. Raytheon has already installed several AESA LPRs for tests at sites such as the NOAA Table Mountain Test Facility in Colorado, and Boston, Massachusetts. Installation of a distributed network is relatively simple, as LPR units can be deployed on existing infrastructure such as tower blocks or mobile phone masts.

The corridor allows for tests of small and commercial UAS platforms, such as those used for package deliveries, railway and power line inspection, agriculture, and security applications. The UASs operate at low-altitude and beyond visual line-of-sight.

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