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Polish Military Benefits From Telecommunications Research

April 1999
By Robert K. Ackerman
E-mail About the Author

Radars and command and control systems emerge from studies of advanced electronics, microwaves.

A Warsaw institute that predates World War II is focusing its efforts on providing Poland with advanced technological know-how to smooth the country’s entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Known as the Telecommunications Research Institute, the group of scientists and engineers is building on decades of military electronics development to supply Poland’s military with radars and related components that will interoperate with their counterparts among the country’s new Western allies.

The institute, also known by its Polish acronym PIT, already has produced a three-dimensional (3-D) surveillance radar that can incorporate Western identification friend or foe systems. Other radars developed by the institute have equipped airports throughout Eastern Europe. More advanced next-generation radars are the subject of classified research on behalf of the Polish government.

Radars and command, control, communications and intelligence (C3I) systems for military applications are PIT’s main activities, according to Professor Edward Sedek, the institute’s scientific director. Sedek emphasizes that the institute’s fastest moving programs concentrate on adapting radar and system parameters to those of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) systems. About 90 percent of PIT’s work has military applications, with the remaining 10 percent serving the commercial market.

The institute’s origins date back to the 1930s, when its first director, Professor Janusz Groszkowski, developed a magnetron oscillator and an oxide cathode magnetron. After the war, research into radar technology resumed with the goal of supplying the country’s Ministry of Industry—and by connection, equipping the Polish armed forces—with indigenous technologies. Many of the military radar technologies developed over the past five decades were applied to air traffic control systems, with several being installed at airports throughout Eastern Europe.

Most recently, PIT has produced a family of long-range, 3-D L-band radars with low sidelobes. These radars are designed for battlefield surveillance. Another key development was an airborne surveillance radar with applications ranging from surface ship detection to pollution monitoring. This technology has been incorporated into a maritime surveillance, command and control system.

The institute is conducting research into several areas among its two main focal points. In radar systems, PIT’s main activities encompass air traffic control radars and long-range 3-D radars. For C3I systems, work is concentrated on signal processing systems, automatic C3I systems for tactical command posts, mobile automatic command posts, and other ground and mobile elements.

Foremost among PIT’s recent products is a long-range, three-dimensional surveillance radar with a planar antenna and embedded identification friend or foe capabilities. Designated the TRD-1211, the L-band radar can detect and track objects as far away as 350 kilometers (220 miles) and up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) in height.

Designed for air defense systems, the 3-D radar calculates target range, azimuth and height. Azimuth scanning data is gathered by mechanical antenna rotation at six revolutions per minute. The radar can automatically track as many as 120 objects. It generates messages about controlled tracks, which can be transmitted through digital links over wireless or landline connections.

Its embedded identification friend or foe system offers programmed interrogation selection. According to Sedek, the TRD-1211 can accommodate any Western or Eastern identification friend or foe system.

The basic system comprises three units—antenna, transmitter and operations—and a mobile power station. All three units can be transported by aircraft or by truck. Users can control the unit through a remote operator post that provides the same functions as the system’s main operations center. The operator posts feature color or monochrome raster indicators that display tracked objects with assigned alphanumeric labels. These screens can also display navigational aids and maps, system diagnostics and target trace histories.

The transmitter averages 7 kilowatts of power, but it offers an effective peak power of 1 megawatt. Pulse length is 20 microns with a frequency agility of 7 percent. The system’s receiver handles eight channels and has a noise figure of 2.3 decibels. One signal processor is assigned for each beam, and the system offers four-pulse adaptive digital moving target indicator with an adaptive clutter map.

The radar’s antijam capabilities are built around several techniques. These include agile tuning of transmitted pulse frequency; employing eight stacked receiving antenna beams with low sidelobe levels of 35 decibels; sophisticated signal processing for moving target indicator systems; pulse compression; and post-detection filtration.

A related product is the institute’s Tracer-500 air traffic control station. This unit can be applied to both air traffic or air defense control, Sedek maintains. It is capable of operating on most commonly available computers, and it is personal-computer-compatible through a QNX index to data/file name extension operating environment.

The system features a Sony 21-inch monitor measuring 1,280 x 1,024 pixels. It can process target data on as many as 300 objects at the same time it performs primary and secondary radar data processing.

One sample configuration is built around a 486-based personal computer. Signals from an extractor feed into a modem for introduction into the computer. A 14-inch monitor serves the computer control unit. The computer, equipped with Tracer-500 software, feeds directly into the 21-inch monitor and its human-machine interfaces.

Among its features are map layering, call sign assignment, map editing, zoom/offset, range and bearing markers, QNH (altimeter subscale setting to obtain level elevation) and flight level select, emergency/situational problem input processing and force display, hotkey commands, and label orientation.

The institute also developed and produced an approach control and landing processing and display system for small- and medium-sized airfields, especially military facilities. Known as ACAL-PADS, this system interfaces airport surveillance and precision approach radar data. It can incorporate an identification friend or foe interrogator such as a Mark X or Mark XII.

Its data-processing and graphics-generation computers can support as many as five workstations performing different functions. The analog system allows automatic aircraft tracking with the potential for track history display. It regulates the length of its synthetic afterglow, which enables quick detection of an aircraft maneuver.

The system operates on UNIX—Solaris for Sun computers—and QNX. Controller consoles consist of 21-inch color raster monitors with a standard resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels or an optional 1,280 x 1,024 pixels. Ethernet over coaxial cable provides local area networking. The system can be installed either in a control tower or in a container/shelter.

The institute’s command and control focus has produced the MSC-400, an airborne maritime surveillance system. Designed for maritime search, surveillance, command and control, the MSC-400 can transmit data to a ship- or shore-based station. It comprises two other systems developed by the institute: the ARS-400 airborne radar system and the CCS-400 command and control system. Sedek explains that the MSC-400 can handle multimode missions such as sea surface search and rescue; surveillance and patrol; customs and fisheries protection; economic zone protection; and antiship operations.

The ARS-400 radar is an X-band radar with an operational range of 160 kilometers (100 miles). The pulse compression system features a traveling wave tube transmitter and multichannel signal processing for sea surface target detection, ground mapping, and weather and oil pollution monitoring.

The radar features pulse compression, frequency agility, scan-to-scan processing, electronic counter-countermeasures and digital processing. It offers an average transmitter power of 100 watts with an antenna gain of 32 decibels and a noise figure of 2.5 decibels.

The other half of the command and control system, the CCS-400, is a multisensor processing system that provides tactical situation display, tactical data management and datalink control. Its color display can present up to 30 target tracks, and it offers a vector prediction capability. Its secure data system can transmit data as fast as 2,400 bits per second. Capabilities include track history, a digital map and mission archiving.

Turning to land-based navigation, PIT developed the UNZ-20 land navigation system. This system can provide autonomous navigation and steering information for wheeled or tracked land vehicles. Foremost among its applications are reconnaissance vehicles, command units and mobile radars. The system incorporates global positioning system (GPS) data and a dead-reckoning inertial system with Kalman filtering for data integration.

Navigation data from the GPS receiver and a directional gyroscope are transmitted through a UPN-20 navigational computer and arrayed on the driver’s display. An odometer provides feedback to the computer. Any course deviation also shows up on the driver’s display. The user need only enter the vehicle’s starting position, in X and Y axes, and the beginning course heading. During travel, the system provides X and Y coordinates, heading, and destination distance and bearing. Institute experts claim that the system can provide accuracy to within 100 meters employing GPS, or within 0.6 percent of the distance covered using dead reckoning.

In addition to these traditional areas of research and development, PIT is working on a new generation of radar, command and control, and microwave technologies. While the actual work is classified secret, focal areas include multifunction low-probability radars, silent maritime radars, artillery radars and new technology planar array antennas from L to X band.