The Defence Science & Technology Organisation (DSTO) and Darwin-based private sector company GecOz Pty Ltd have signed a memorandum of agreement to build a new airborne ground mapping imaging radar system unique in Australia. The agreement is potentially worth millions of dollars.
Under the agreement the existing DSTO airborne X Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) will be enhanced with the addition of a high fidelity L Band mapping capability.
The upgraded system will have both enhanced defense and civilian applications including the ability to map soil salinity, terrain/elevation types, bushfire and floods and oil spills in all weather, day and night..
As well, the new combined L and X Band radar will significantly improve DSTO research have capabilities in crop yield assessment and surveillance, reconnaissance and monitoring.
With a combined L and X Band mapping capability, the system will be the only one of its kind in Australia and one of only a handful of commercially available systems in the world available for commercial use. Currently Australia relies on costly overseas systems to provide most of its airborne imaging radar maps. With the construction of the GecOz-DSTO system, radar imagery will become much more affordable in Australia and the region.
The development will depend upon GecOz attracting sufficient venture capital investment and continued Defence Department funding of an existing DSTO-leased aircraft, a Beech 1900C. Once funding has been secured GecOz and DSTO will enter into a contract under which DSTO will build the radar, incorporating in it an existing airborne X Band synthetic aperture radar (SAR), known as to be flown in the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Testbed on the Beech aircraft.
GecOz was founded by researchers from the Charles Darwin University and has been operating in Darwin since February 2001. The company has already won investment of nearly three quarters of a million dollars and is expecting a further injection of over three million dollars by the middle of this year. Part of this money will be put towards the construction of the combined L/X Band SAR system.
DSTO and Industry to Develop New Radar Mapping Capability