GLOBAL DEFENSE MARKET
'Passive' Radar Can Give Soldiers Stealth in Urban Battlegrounds
Silentium Defence photosGEELONG, Australia — An Australian startup is offering a “passive” radar system that can detect flying objects kilometers away without giving away warfighters’ positions.
Silentium Defence’s patented Maverick technology relies on ambient radio and television waves in the UHF and FM spectrums to search for objects rather than traditional radar technology that blasts out energy and collects the signals that bounce off objects, said James Palmer, CEO of the company based in South Australia.
The problem with traditional radars is that they often require spectrum licenses to operate in most nations, they emit potentially harmful energy to human operators and — perhaps most importantly for warfighters — as soon as they are turned on, their electronic signature and location is revealed to enemies, Palmer said in an interview on the sidelines of Avalon — The Australian Air Show.
“What we do is provide the same information product as a traditional radar — range, bearing, velocity … but we don’t transmit. We exploit existing sources of broadcast television, [and] broadcast radio,” he said.
That wouldn’t work in an area in the middle of the ocean where there are no humans transmitting TV and radio signals, so its applications are in urban environments, he noted.
The company is offering the Maverick M8 for mounted or dismounted troops that can fit in a backpack, and another the size of a shipping container that can give users a larger field of view.
The smaller version can geolocate and track objects such as small drones in a 360-degree bubble three to seven kilometers away — depending on their size — and larger fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft up to 20 kilometers away, he said.
The larger Maverick-S, or “Space Observatory in a Box,” as the company calls it, can track and observe objects in low-Earth orbit, he said.
The company has contracts to try out the technology with all three branches of the Australian Defence Force, as well as a U.S. partnership between Duke University and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which are exploring how the passive radar can be used for space situational awareness. Lockheed Martin Australia is also mentoring the company.