Silentium extends passive radar to drones


Silentium Defence has announced it will extend the capabilities of its passive radar systems to small to medium drones and unmanned aerial systems (UAS), adding to airborne surveillance capabilities.

The Adelaide company will leverage the size, weight, and power advantages of passive radar over existing active radar capabilities to extend survivability and range of unmanned airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms and improve the quality of surveillance data generated.

It is believed this is the first time passive radar has been tested in unmanned systems.

In July Silentium secured a $7.4 million contract from the Department of Defence to supply its MAVERICK M-series passive radar system to the army for capability development and evaluation.

It monitors reflections from battlefield radiation sources such as radios and radars to provide soldiers with a picture of their environment and, unlike active radars, does not emit a signal of its own and so is undetectable to an adversary.

Silentium Defence CEO Dr James Palmer said: “The challenge with existing ISR capabilities of small to medium UAS is they are power, and payload constrained.

“Passive radar overcomes both these barriers and exploits megawatts of existing energy in the environment to provide greater range and performance without highlighting the drone or user’s presence.”

The company’s sensors are cost effective, light weight and more power efficient which makes them suitable even on small format drones and UAS.

“Deployed independently or as part of a meshed network, UAS with integrated passive radar are more versatile and multi-purpose, providing covert situational awareness to inform the ISR picture, and counter-drone capability to protect people and assets simultaneously.”

Silentium will work with existing drone and UAS platform providers and customers to trial static and on-the-move deployments of its airborne passive radar systems.

Silentium is interested in joining Australian defence programs such as JP129 tactical UAV program as well as equipping dones that could extend the range of manned systems such as future P-8 and AEW&C upgrades.

The company has $15 million in contracts on hand for defence and commercial customers, with its latest move ‘opening the way to future international exports’, according to the company.

Picture: Silentium Defence/CTO Simon Palumbo, at left, and CEO Dr James Palmer

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