First Metamaterials Based Radar Antenna Has Ultra-low Cost, Size, Weight and Power

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Echodyne Corp announced its first metamaterials electronically scanning array (MESA) for radar applications. MESA accomplishes its breakthrough by fundamentally changing the way the radar antenna array interacts with the source signal to electronically steer the radar beam.

Echodyne’s MESA makes high performance radar far easier to deploy by lowering both the cost and weight by upto 10 or more times while decreasing the size of the antenna by upto five or more times over traditional electronically scanned arrays.

The company has made available its first product, MESA for X-band (MESA X-EVU) for partners and radar manufacturers who are interested in evaluating MESA for radar systems in a variety of commercial markets including maritime, aviation, and surveillance/security among others.

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Echodyne’s MESA X-EVU combines ultra-low C-SWAP (cost, size, weight, and power) with ultra-fast beam steering (sub-microsecond) in an electronically scanning array that can be integrated into new or existing radar systems.

Metamaterials based radar has the opportunity to not only change how traditional, heavy, expensive radar systems are deployed but can open up new markets for advanced radar that were never before thought possible because of the cost, size and weight of traditional electronically scanned arrays.

MESA uses vastly simpler metamaterials architecture unlike Phased Array radars or Active Electronically Scanning Array (AESA) radars that use complicated, expensive, and inefficient transmit/receive modules which include phase shifters, amplifiers, circulators, and low noise amplifiers behind every single antenna element. Unlike conventional mechanical apertures which steer a radar beam using motorised gimbals, Echodyne’s MESA requires no moving parts to steer its beam. The net effect of this simplified architecture is dramatically lower cost, size, weight and power.

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Specifications of the MESA-X-EVU include operation at X-band and a broad field of view (+/-50 degrees in azimuth and +/-45 degrees in elevation) which it can scan very rapidly given its sub-microsecond beam switching speed. Additionally, the MESA-X-EVU subsystem includes the metamaterial array, the array control driver circuitry, and the beam steering computer.

The product’s size and weight demonstrates a vast improvement over traditional electronically scanning arrays. Fully assembled without packaging, the subsystem is a mere 50cm x 18cm x 2.5cm with a total weight of only 1.4 kg. The company plans to decrease this even further as it optimises the technology for various implementations.

The aperture is controlled through a simple USB 2.0 interface and requires only a single +12 DC source to operate. Integrators and radar manufacturers interested in evaluating MESA-X-EVU can connect their own Pulsed or FMCW transceivers through a single coax SMA port.

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