Following the successful completion of Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) flight trials in the United States, the SELEX Galileo Vixen 500E active electronically scanned array (AESA) Air Intercept Radar and Mission Management System (MMS) has entered service with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on their Cessna Citation C-550 jet.
The prime contractor for the programme is TKC Aerospace based in Charleston, South Carolina. This new radar provides an enhanced capability in US border protection as part of the wider US Department of Homeland Security's mission and builds on the success of the Seaspray 7500 AESA surveillance radars currently in service with the US Coast Guard.
The radar incorporates specific requirements of CBP and delivers a wide range of multi-role AESA radar capabilities. The Vixen 500E Key discriminators include:
- Significantly enhanced performance relative to similar sized AESA and larger mechanically scanned systems.
- Superior air-air detection and automatic tracking capabilities, particularly against small targets (including micro-lights) over varied difficult terrain.
- Excellent air-surface capabilities including Sea Surface Search providing tracking of small targets in varied sea states. This capability is further enhanced by utilising the ground mapping, SAR and imaging modes.
- Fully integrated MMS enabling fusion of the platform sensor suite providing the operator with the ability to slew the EO/IR Turret to radar target data. Thereby significantly reducing operator workload and human error and increases interdiction effectiveness.
The AESA Antenna uses leading edge solid state transmitter-receiver module (TRM) technology to electronically steer the beam providing instantaneous beam repositioning to targets of interest. This is a key advantage over mechanically scanned radar systems. AESA technology also provides graceful degradation and greatly reduced through life costs for the customer.
The Vixen 500E radar is a compact, easy to install solution and forms part of the large family of scaleable SELEX Galileo AESA Radars ranging from the small PicoSAR surveillance radar to the larger Vixen 1000E wide field of regard radar and also the Raven ES-05 Fire Control radar selected for the Gripen NG aircraft.
The Radar can be tailored to customer requirements to meet platform and operational needs such as specific and/or interleaved software modes.
The success in OT&E represents a significant milestone in AESA development and is the culmination of a product development programme building on both 60 years of Fire Control Radar experience and 20 years of AESA technology investment. It also reinforces the SELEX Galileo position as the European leader for AESA Radars.