Thales has announced that the first series production Searchmaster multirole surveillance radar was accepted in March for delivery to an undisclosed export customer. Series production of the Searchmaster at the company’s new Air’Innov facility in Bordeaux was launched in 2016.
The customer could be Qatar. The company said one year ago that the Searchmaster had been selected by the Qatar Armed Forces to equip the Optionally Piloted Vehicles - Aircraft (OPV-A) Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) system for land and naval surveillance. Thales indicates that the system has been selected by “several” international customers.
Searchmaster is designed to meet the surveillance requirements of five mission types: ground surveillance, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, maritime surveillance and tactical air support. It features an AESA active electronic scanning antenna, based on technologies developed for the nose-mounted radar of the Rafale combat aircraft.
The lightweight radar (less than 80kg) can be integrated on a wide range of platforms — Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAVs, helicopters for medium to heavy missions, and turboprop-powered special mission aircraft, providing them with multimission capabilities.
The system is designed to detect stationary and moving maritime targets, including in high sea states, at ranges up to 200 nautical miles (air-to-sea). It also provides very high-resolution radar imagery. It has been selected for retrofit on French Navy ATL2 maritime patrol aircraft — a flight test campaign was conducted in 2016.