New software signals radar advance

A new computer simulation has allowed scientists to develop an all-in-one radar system for the Royal Navy’s frigates, without putting to sea.

BAE Systems developed the Sampson radar system with the aid of a computer modelling software that for the first time recreated the complex radar return signals of the battlefield.

Peter Manning, group leader for signal processing at BAE’s land and air systems division, said: ‘We believe we have saved around half the time it would have taken us to do this using previous methods.’

Modern naval frigates need several radar systems, providing long-range, medium-range and target tracking. Sampson fulfils all these tasks, according to BAE.

To simulate the radar return BAE used Matrix Laboratory and Simulink modelling software, produced by US supplier The MathWorks, in combination with another, undisclosed, programme developed especially for Sampson, which is expected to be in service by 2005.

Roy Sanbles, Exeter University’s professor of physics, said the maths for the simulation of radar have been around since the 1880s but the simulation of complex return signals has only been developed in the past 10 years.

‘Radar returns from one radar can be complex and it is hard to model the reflecting surfaces,’ he said. ‘Multi-function radar, with its range of radar wavelengths, increases that complexity.’