PARIS — France is exploring anti-missile defense with Onera, the aerospace research agency, conducting studies with a technology demonstrator, dubbed DRTLP, for an over-the-horizon radar to detect and track ballistic missile launches.
Onera took delivery last year of the demonstrator built on a reduced scale of one-eighth for a very long-range radar, and tests have already begun, Thierry Michal, general technical manager, told reporters March 22.
The research project is shared 50-50 with Thales, backed by the Direction Générale de l’Armement procurement office.
The demonstrator will study a capability to detect and track a missile launch and forecast the point of impact, an Onera spokesman said. There will also be studies for detection and tracking of satellites.
The 20-meter-high demonstrator was shipped last year to Hourtin, part of the Biscarrosse missile research center, southwest France, operated by the DGA. Onera seeks to de-risk the technology with upstream research and present results of the study, allowing the DGA to decide how to pursue the project.
The demonstrator draws on an active electronically scanned array, a radar technology used on the Graves satellite tracking system developed and operated by Onera.
An AESA radar is fitted on the French Rafale fighter jet.