Tracking the Impossible


Cambridge Consultants, a leading technology design and development firm, has successfully carried out trials tracking 5 inch shells travelling at over 1,000 miles per hour for the US Department of Defense (DoD). The groundbreaking radar developed specifically for this task was able to measure the trajectory and burst points of shells fired from a naval gun at a rate of one every three seconds – the first time radar has been used this way. The technology will eventually be used by the US DoD for training against attack by fast moving land and sea vehicles.

The terrorist attack on the USS Cole in 2000, where a small craft was detonated alongside the ship killing or injuring 56 American sailors, reinforced the need for the US DoD to train against possible attack. With the high costs of live fire training proving unsustainable, the US Department for Operational Test & Evaluation commissioned Cambridge Consultants to use its radar expertise to develop a shell-scoring system. Following just 14 months of development, Cambridge Consultants unveiled the industry’s first holographic radar scoring system, the Land and Surface Target Scorer (LSTS).

Installed on high-speed land or sea-surface target vehicles, the system uses receiver array panels combined with high-speed signal processing to detect and track small projectiles in the presence of very large radar clutter, such as that experienced on moving land and sea surface targets. During trials at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren VA, the system successfully detected, tracked and located the point of impact of inert 5 inch projectiles, and was also able to plot the burst point of a high explosive round. Observers were able to see the results in near real-time on a laptop.

“Land and sea surface vehicle installations present a considerable challenge because the clutter return produced by the ground or water surface is considerably larger than the projectile to be measured. It is like finding a needle in a haystack,” said Gary Kemp, Program Director at Cambridge Consultants. “Holographic radar offers the optimum solution in such difficult conditions as it extracts projectiles of interest from clutter using tracking algorithms while retaining the full sensitivity of the radar, rather than by raising thresholds and potentially missing critical data. During these trials we were able to produce raw data plots immediately and full trajectory reconstructions in just 15 minutes, under the scrutiny of our customer.”

The demonstration test took place with the radar system mounted on a tethered pontoon to prove its detection and tracking capabilities over a zone within the specified 360 degree, 1,000 foot coverage. The demonstration team then conducted a rapid-fire test, during which all rounds were tracked through to impact on the water.

Dae Hong of the Naval Air Warfare Center commented: “To witness a successful proof of concept constitutes a significant milestone for our program. To have produced a working prototype from concept in just 14 months is testament to the depth of knowledge and skills of the team at Cambridge Consultants. We look forward to developing the technology further and enhancing the training capabilities we are able to offer our troops.”   

It is expected that development of the LSTS system will be taken to the next level during 2011, concluding with a full-coverage demonstration, installed on a sea target moving at high-speed with results being continuously produced in real-time over an extended test period.

For more information please visit http://www.cambridgeconsultants.com/news_pr304.html

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Notes for editors 

Cambridge Consultants develops breakthrough products, creates and licenses intellectual property, and provides business consultancy in technology critical issues for clients worldwide. For 50 years, the company has been helping its clients turn business opportunities into commercial successes, whether they are launching first-to-market products, entering new markets or expanding existing markets through the introduction of new technologies. With a team of over 350 engineers, designers, scientists and consultants, in offices in Cambridge (UK) and Boston (USA), Cambridge Consultants offers solutions across a diverse range of industries including medical technology, industrial and consumer products, transport, energy, cleantech and wireless communications. For more information visit: www.CambridgeConsultants.com  

Cambridge Consultants is part of Altran, the European leader in innovation and high technology consulting. The Group’s 17,500 consultants, operating worldwide, cover the entire range of engineering specialities, including electronics, information technology, quality and organization. Altran offers its clients ongoing support throughout the innovation cycle, from technology watch, applied basic research and management consulting to industrial systems engineering and information systems. The Group provides services to most industries, including the automotive, aeronautics, space, life sciences and telecommunications sectors. Founded in 1982, Altran operates in 20 priority countries. In 2008, it generated a turnover of €1,650 million. For more information visit: www.altran.com

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