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Synthetic Aperture Radar for Helicopter Landing in Degraded Visual Environments

  • Magazine Article
  • 19AERP02_10
Published February 01, 2019 by SAE International in United States
  • English

New technology could give helicopters the ability to overcome zero-visibility brownout conditions during landing.

Army Research Laboratory, Adelphi, Maryland

The development of sensors to assist helicopter landing in degraded visual environments (DVEs) is currently an important US Army requirement addressing the Survivability of Future Vertical Lift Platforms program, one of the Army's modernization priorities.

Over the past three decades, dozens of rotary-wing aircraft crashes have been responsible for a large number of casualties to US and coalition forces in different parts of the world. Out of these crashes, at least 75% have occurred in brownout conditions, where dirt or dust is stirred up and recirculated by the rotor blades, creating low- or zero-visibility environments for the pilots. Research and development efforts to mitigate this issue starting in the early 2000s recommended several possible solutions based on optical, IR, and radar sensors. Unfortunately, most of these solutions have proven to be either ineffective or they involved unacceptable size, weight, power, and/or cost (SWAP-C), leaving the Army with a capability gap to be filled.