NAWCWD’s Surface Target Imaging System Hits Milestone

Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division personnel developed a software that enables a radar to accurately alert the warfighter to adversary submarine periscopes on the cluttered and choppy surface of the ocean.

The development team, within the command’s Target Recognition Branch of the Avionics Department, achieved a major technical milestone with the successful operational test of a surface target imaging system known as Automatic Radar Periscope Detection and Discrimination (ARPDD).

Dave Breitigam, the ARPDD team lead at NAWCWD, said:

This system represents our first successful application of automatic target recognition on an aircraft.

The team developed the software that provides real-time data via the AN/APS-153 Multimode Radar on the Seahawk (MH-60R) helicopter. Breitigam said that this involved months of flight testing, many data collection exercises and significant commitment from team members. An upgrade to the previous radar system, ARPDD enhances situational awareness by effectively detecting, imaging and sizing all sea surface disruptions, no matter the environment.

Researchers developed the complex algorithms that are the basis of ARPDD’s capability. The mathematical equations are bundled into computer software programs designed to accurately detect submarine periscopes and distinguish them from other objects or disturbances on the water’s surface. An operator can then make a final periscope confirmation based on the data and take appropriate action.

NAWCWD scientists and engineers have been working on the ARPDD program from its inception.

Work began in 1976 with a joint Naval Research Laboratory and NAWCWD program focusing on automatic target recognition for ships. Since the beginning, the two labs cooperate on surface target imaging.

The system achieved initial operational capability in 2013. Full scale production and rollout of the radar continues to move forward with a successful operational evaluation in early 2014.

Press release, Image: NAWCWD

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