September 25, 2004 (by Eric L. Palmer) - The Theatre Airborne Reconnaissance System (TARS) Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) successfully performed, for the first time, aboard an operational F-16 at Edwards Air Force Base in California. TARS SAR is the first all weather, day and night, precision radar capability developed for tactical aircraft.
The test proved that TARS SAR
could effectively receive, process and disseminate critical targeting information in real-time, utilizing a solid-state digital system to record imagery, an airborne data-link to electronically relay information to ground stations, and a SAR capable of accurately locating targets anytime day or night in all weather conditions.
"We are delighted with this successful test. TARS SAR will provide the U.S. Air Force with onboard targeting as well as real-time bomb damage assessment capabilities, regardless of weather conditions," said Jerry Lindfelt, vice president of Lockheed Martin?s Surveillance & Reconnaissance Systems.
Lockheed Martin's TARS SAR is a high-resolution sensor system that accurately locates targets in all weather conditions, in addition to providing real-time capabilities for targeting, real-time bomb damage assessment and real-time reconnaissance capabilities. The existing TARS system is a podded reconnaissance sensor suite designed for under the weather flying and medium-to-high threat, daytime imagery collection. Adding TARS SAR radar and targeting capabilities (which are largely unaffected by the presence of dense cloud cover) delivers flexibility over weather constraints and introduces the ability for night operations, which will provide the U.S. Air Force (USAF) with an all-weather, man-in-the-loop fighter reconnaissance capability.
The addition of a SAR to the TARS system is part of a pre-planned product improvement effort to provide the USAF with a 24/7, day/night sensor while upgrading all the pods with a solid-state recorder and broadband data link. Over the past few decades Lockheed Martin has adapted SAR technology to meet the requirements for numerous military, government and civilian applications. This includes tactical SAR sensors, foliage penetration SAR sensors and exploitation capabilities for key military transformation initiatives.