BAE Offers Helicopter Brownout Solution
By DAVE MAJUMDAR • PARIS – BAE Systems is proposing a new millimeter wave radar-based imaging system for the U.S. Army’s nascent Brownout Landing Aid System Technology (BLAST) effort.
Brownouts are a phenomenon where particulate matter is kicked into the air in a desert or dusty environment by a helicopter’s rotors and obscures the pilot’s view of his surroundings when a helicopter is very near the ground, Brownouts can potentially lead to a crash.
Although one solution is increased training, the infusion of technology could greatly reduce the number of accidents, especially if both are done in tandem.
BLAST is an Army effort to do just that, said Mark Sadel, BAE Systems’ director of international business development.
“We’ve come up with BLAST, which is a capability to see though all obscurants,” Sadel said.
BAE’s solution uses very lightweight 94 GHz millimeter wave radar to create a synthetic image of the helicopter’s surrounding, which can then be fed into the pilot’s helmet to restore his situational awareness.
The development of small computers capable of generating massive processing power enabled the breakthrough, Sadel said. “That’s the secret,” he said.
The radar has enough processing power to image even moving contacts, he said.
Though the company has not studied the issue, the system also could have tactical applications, he said.