The 422nd Test and Evaluation squadron conducted at Synthetic Aperture Radar Map Bomb Hit Assessment.

During this test, two F-15Es dropped live Joint Direct Attack Munitions, while other weapons systems including F-15Es, F-35s, F-16s, FA-18s, RQ-4, MQ-9, U-2 and joint partners used SAR Mapping technology to assess if the bombs hit and destroyed the intended targets.

“The objective of the test is to determine our ability and timeline to conduct real time strike assessment using synthetic aperture radar maps,” said Maj Derek Anderson, director of operations, 706th Fighter Squadron. “Synthetic aperture radar maps allow manned and unmanned platforms to image target areas from long ranges and through weather.”

Bomb damage assessment is typically done using short-range optical sensors carried by aircraft flying nearby targets, or by ground reconnaissance teams within visual range. However, in well-defended airspace – so-called anti-access/area-denial situations – it may be impossible to assess targets using such means. That is especially the case against sophisticated foes such as China or Russia.

“Operating in Europe or the Pacific we can expect weather and the need to remain beyond the operating range of current electro-optical and infrared sensors due to threats,” says Major Derek Anderson, director of operations for the 706th Fighter Squadron. “[Synthetic aperture radar] maps allow manned and unmanned platforms to image target areas from long ranges and through weather.”

The USAF not only wants to see if SAR can be used for damage assessment, but also how quickly it can make such assessments, he adds.

This test was ultimately designed to find a new way to effectively close the kill chain – confirming destruction of the target. SAR Mapping technology isn’t new technology, but this test puts it to use in a way that can solve an issue for the warfighter in dynamic fights.


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