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Advances for Europe's AGS Candidate (Jan 30)

The European SOSTAR-X programme for the development and demonstration of an advanced airborne ground-surveillance radar system is entering a new decisive stage.

On December 23, 2005, the SOSTAR Steering Committee, the highest government body acting on behalf of the Ministries of Defence of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and The Netherlands approved the Post Test Review (PTR) for SOSTAR-X (Stand-Off Surveillance and Target Acquisition Radar Demonstrator) that had been held at the Indra facilities in Madrid, Spain. The PTR is an important programme milestone since it releases the mission system for installation into the test aircraft.

Two days before, the PTR, the SOSTAR-X demonstrator aircraft, a Fokker 100 modified for test flight purposes, had successfully completed its flight tests in its SOSTAR-X aerodynamical configuration and received its Special Certificate of Airworthiness from the Dutch Airworthiness Authority. This is an important programme prerequisite since it releases flight operation of the test aircraft with the structural modifications applied.

“We are pleased to announce that SOSTAR-X has successfully passed another two major milestones”, says Dr Enno Littmann, General Manager of the European company SOSTAR GmbH. “Based upon this progress, we now can fully concentrate on the industry flight tests in the months to come.”

The modification of the test aircraft as well as the certification flights were performed by Fokker Services B.V. in Woensdrecht, The Netherlands. Modifications were mainly required for power supply, mission system installation in the cabin and in the cargo area, mission system cooling, antennae relocation and radome installation. Wind tunnel tests have been performed to verify the effects of the radome on the aircraft flight envelope and structural reinforcements in the tail were made to compensate for the effects. Flight tests proved that these modifications induce no limitations in the flight envelope.

After conclusion of the SOSTAR-X mission system ground integration being performed in Friedrichshafen, Germany, the SOSTAR-X programme is on track to complete aircraft installation in Woensdrecht, NL and to start industry flight tests in early 2006. The industry flight tests will be conducted both in The Netherlands and Germany.

In the beginning of 2007, SOSTAR-X will prove the contractual performance in a customer flight campaign in France. An operational demonstration with a live military scenario will reveal to a selected audience the capabilities of the SOSTAR-X system. This demonstrator system must be considered to be the best performing European ISR aircraft ever.

The campaign will feature capabilities like Wide Area GMTI Scanning and Tracking of Ground Movers and Helicopters, High Resolution Spotlight SAR and Swath SAR Imaging. Target Classification by Spectral Classification, High Range Resolution Length Measurements and Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar Imaging of Ground Moving Targets will also be presented. Most of the mission and sensor planning will occur on-board by means of two operations & control stations. A wide-band data link will allow imagery to be down-linked in real time to a German and a French Ground Station for further analysis.

SOSTAR GmbH is a Joint Venture Company between Dutch Space, EADS, Galileo Avionica, Indra Sistemas and Thales. The company was founded in 2001 to perform the SOSTAR-X Programme. The SOSTAR-X Programme is to demonstrate by 2007 an advanced ground surveillance radar with AESA (Active electronically scanned array) antenna that meets the majority of the NATO AGS staff requirements for the radar. The programme is being performed under an R&D contract awarded under a government MoU between France, Germany, Italy, Spain and The Netherlands.

SOSTAR-X Passes Post-Test Review, Test Aircraft Receives Special Certificate of Airworthiness