Test Flights of Diamond DA42 with Thales I-Master
Thales’s I-Master radar system has successfully completed flight trials onboard a Diamond DA42MPP GUARDIAN aircraft.
Conducted in partnership with Diamond Aircraft Industries and Diamond Airborne Sensing at its facility in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, the week-long trial covered different radar modes at a range of altitudes and speeds.
The demonstration included using the onboard payload to transmit full-resolution radar images and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) footage via a high-bandwidth line-of-sight data link to controllers at the ground station.
The DA42MPP NG, with its de-icing TKS protection, is all-weather capable, enabling flight operations to use the Thales I-Master radar to detect targets; these can then be identified by the EO/IR turret, which is also mounted on the platform, before the footage is sent back to headquarters via line-of-sight datalink.
I-Master is an all-weather, lightweight payload that is easily installed in a standard 15-inch gimbal outline. Its high-performance radar offers two modes: Ground Moving Target Indication (GMTI) and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery.
GMTI is used to detect moving targets – from high-speed vehicles to targets moving at a walking pace. Its 360-degree capability can scan a wide area, such as deserts, savannah, borders and road networks, and its use over time can help to build a ‘pattern of life’ situation awareness.
SAR is used for long-range stand-off image collection – both high-resolution spotlight pictures and extended ‘strip maps’. It is deployed as an alternative to gathering images by camera; its long range enables aircraft to avoid dangerous situations, and it is unaffected by severe weather conditions or lack of light.
The Diamond DA42MPP (Multi-Purpose Platform) GUARDIAN is an innovative twin-engine aircraft specially designed for carrying interchangeable multi-function sensor equipment. The aircraft used during the I-Master trial was configured for an airborne mission capability of 7-9 hours with a two-man crew.
Eddie Awang, Vice President of Intelligence Surveillance & Reconnaissance at Thales UK, said, “I-Master delivers an advanced capability in a lightweight payload that is easy to install or swap between aircraft. We believe that the combination with the Diamond DA42 is particularly attractive, and meets an increased need for cost-effective, light, manned ISR platforms. It offers a complete solution for military, paramilitary, homeland security and border surveillance, pipeline security and incident management.”
“It was impressive to see how quickly and easily the I-Master could be integrated into the DA42MPP GUARDIAN. The ease of installation, in combination with the outstanding performance demonstrated in the field trials, opens up huge new sales opportunities for Diamond. It is now no longer necessary to operate an expensive and cost-inefficient heavy platform to gather data from different sensors,” said Markus Fischer, Sales Director for Diamond Airborne Sensing.