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The new very high-speed Safran antennas, a major asset


Parabolic and controled to track their targets, antennas are undergoing a revolution with the emergence of electronic scanning technology: flat and fixed, they can track targets at speeds previously unattainable. Focus on one application of this technology: tracking hypervelocity missile tests.

AESA - Safran Data Systems

In today's uncertain geopolitical climate, the aerodefense and space sector is called upon to offer breakthrough innovations to guarantee the security and sovereignty of nations. Reactivity has become a decisive factor in "making the difference", as have the notions of discretion and stealth.

When it comes to speed and discretion, electronically scanned antennas (AESA) play a decisive role. Whether for testing new hypervelocity systems (weapons systems propelled at speeds over 4 times the speed of sound), or for providing our forces with discreet means of communication in contested environments, electronically scanned antenna technology is an excellent complement to traditional parabolic antenna systems.

In the field of telemetry tracking and reception systems for aircraft and missile testing, which is one of Safran's areas of expertise, we have developed the SPARTE e100 antenna (Système de Poursuite Automatique et de Réception de TElémsure, e100).

Electronically scanned antennas (AESA), an intelligent eye

Electronically scanned antennas have evolved from simple observation systems into intelligent guides, enabling the precise tracking of objects in flight, be they satellites, aircraft or drones. Their versatility makes them key elements in navigation, communication and surveillance.

For example, these antennas are revolutionizing the performance of radar systems. Integrated into modern fighter aircraft programs such as the Eurofighter Typhoon and Rafale, they enable efficient tracking of moving targets, thanks to improved directivity, high pointing speeds and dynamic adjustment of the number of beams.

Safran Data Systems Electronically Scanned Antennas

Automatic tracking, a.k.a. "Autotrack": autonomous, precise and responsive tracking

The electronics in these antennas make them exceptionally agile, enabling them to track targets quickly and accurately, without any mechanical movement. Thanks to "autotrack" technology, the antenna constantly seeks the maximum signal level from the object to be tracked, adjusting its direction in real time to maintain optimum reception. This communication opens the way to a multitude of actions: supervision, trajectory adjustment, performance optimization and anticipation of potential failures.

Safran at the heart of the successful test firing of the M51.3 ballistic missile

The M51.3, France's latest ballistic missile, successfully completed its first test firing on November 18, 2023. For this test, conducted by the French defense procurement agency (Direction Générale de l'Armement - DGA) from the Biscarrosse site in the Landes region of France, instrumentation data collection is attributable to the antenna array supplied by Safran. The tracking system comprises several traditional SPARTE mechanical tracking antennas for S-band telemetry, deployed at the launch site and at various sites along the trajectory. On this occasion, this system was supplemented by a SPARTE e100 electronically scanned antenna (AESA). Installed on a boat, this electronic antenna demonstrated its ability to acquire its target (find it and lock onto it, triggering automatic tracking) in record time, and to track the missile at very high speed. This network of antennae enabled us to collect essential data from this firing, necessary for the qualification of this missile.

This success confirms the maturity of electronically scanned antenna technology, and Safran's mastery of it. Already the supplier of choice for civil and commercial players, Safran is also the trusted partner for armed forces seeking to guarantee their superiority and security.

A complete range of antennas... but also equipment for test telemetry!

From data reception to analysis and display solutions, including radio-frequency signal recording, this equipment guarantees the collection, secure storage, targeted dissemination and interpretation of data: an indispensable asset for defense missions.

Safran Data Systems' expertise enables us to rapidly deliver customized solutions, perfectly adapted to the specific needs of each customer. Whether for land, naval or airborne applications, Safran Data Systems has the right answer to every challenge.