Mectron SCP-01 Radar – Fine-tuning the modernized AMX aircraft

Note DefesaNet

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Mectron SCP-01 afiando a pontaria do AMX modernizado Link

The Editor


by Nelson Düring
Chief-Editor DefesaNet

Aiming to extend tactical fighter AMX (A-1) service time aircrafts for 20 more years, reduce the obsolescence of their equipment and, at the same time, set standards to the fleet and eliminate the differences between the three different batches currently operated by the Brazilian Air Force, the modernization program for the main Brazilian attack aircraft performed a round of testing flight in Gavião Peixoto, SP, in order to validate de operational capability of the SCP-01 Radar System.

DefesaNet followed  MECTRON company work, a company owned by  Odebrecht Defesa e Tecnologia (ODT), in partnership with Italian Selex ES on  SCP-01 Radar, that is one of central points in the Brazilian Air Force A-1M modernization.
The SCP-01 is a multifunctional radar designed to operate as the main sensor in the A1-M arms subsystem. On the Brazilian side, MECTRON is responsible for developing the receptor, antenna, servo antenna and steel frame. The Italian company Selex ES will provide transmitters and processors.
During the test rounds, the SCP-01 has received validation on all its operation modes. In order to test the Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) mode, the A-1 aircraft flew over the city of Ibitinga, near the Promissão dam at Tietê river – the test was to identify fluvial areas and map out the land, providing the pilot with geographical data of the landscape 50 miles ahead.



The SCP-01 Radar as projected to be used at A-1M Tactcal-fighter

Along in the same flight, the ship tracking mode was tested as well, as the radar had to detect any vessels on the water. In order to assess the air-air search and tracking mode, and the air combat mode, a small Phenom Executive aircraft, produced by EMBRAER, was used as a fake target.
This scenario allowed target detection at distances further than 12 miles (18km). As the SPD-01 radar tracked the Phenom, a series of combat maneuvers were performed, as well as in-flight refueling maneuvers as the radar operated on AIR-P mode. On another stage during the test, the radar system operated on ground distance (AGR) mode, and provided algorithms to target potential threats on ground.
During the trials it was also possible to assess the integration of the PSC-01 with the A1-M’s new navigation system, as well as to the Head Up Display (HUD) and the Multi-Function Display (MFD), where the pilot can see all the data collected by the radar.
Sharp eyes for 20 more years
The AMX aircraft (formally known in the Air Force as A-1) was specially designed for long rage, ground attack and reconnaissance missions. The AMX modernization project allowed the upgrade of the SCP-01 radar, now with color multifunction displays incorporated into the A-1M. Also, the radar system is now able to detect and update navigation data from more targets simultaneously.
Regarding logistics, MECTRON has developed a new database to provide support for tests of the SCP-01 on ground. The company also created a database named Radar Stimulator, which helped to come up with the radar’s avionic interface, allowing it to interact with others systems in the A-1.

The technological partnership with the Italians has been successful: now MECTRON is fully capable to provide maintenance services to the Italian units as well.


SCP-01 assembled in AMX tactical Fighter A-1M Photo MECTRON

DefesaNet Exclusive Questions sent do Mectron company and answered by Engineering Department:
Nelson Düring – DefesaNet – How many people in MECTRON are involved with the SCP-01?

MECTRON – We consider people as the main part of any technology development program. Throughout the SCP-01 project, dozens of professionals have been graduated. In this current stage, there are about 10 people working full-time in the program, including engineers and other professionals.
DefesaNet– What’s the radar resolution, including reach, on naval surface?
This is classified information, so only the Brazilian Air Force can provide it.
DefesaNet – There have been small aircraft detection drills, certainly with low Radar Cross Section (RSC). It indicates an excellent performance. Is it possible to compare de SCP-0 with AESA radars?
The SCP-01 uses the mechanical scan array system. It was design to be lightweight, consume less energy and be portable. The AESA (Active Electronically Scan Array), thanks to cutting edge computer and X band gallium arsenide chips, now have great capacity to track multiple targets. However, those are costly. When it comes to target detection with low RSC, the SCP-01 and AESA radars are equivalent.
DefesaNet– How was the integration process of the SCP-01 radar with A-1M’s other systems?
Since both the SCP-01 and the A-1M projects are both managed by COPAC, MECTRON and Selex ES, the integration process went as planned.
DefesaNet – The A-1M aircraft was designed to operate in very hostile environments, at low altitudes, and under constant vibration caused when the weapons are fired. What is the radar availability under such conditions?

MECTRON   The radar was designed considering scenarios of ground attacks on low altitudes, and has proper settings to counter the vibration issue, as specified in the SCP-01 project. During the gun fire tests, the radar system kept the lock-on at the target the entire time, showing that even extreme vibrations don’t affect its operation.
DefesaNet– Is it easy for the pilot to switch the radar from SEA to AIR-AIR mode?
Yes. Man-machine interface for aircrafts is a subject that demands a lot of study and dedication. The A-1M pilot can switch from one radar mode to another through the multi functional display.
DefesaNet – The SCP-01 can be operated on SEA mode even if the aircraft is flying over land?
O SCP-01 has specific settings for flight over the ground.
DefesaNet – All the A-1M aircrafts, whether mono or biplace, are equipped with the radar?
For confidentiality reasons, only the Brazilian Air Force can provide this information.
DefesaNet  – Could you briefly tell the story of how MECTRON took on the SCP-01 program?
The SCP-01 Radar program begun in the 1980’s, funded by the Air Force. In March 2000, MECTRON became responsible for its conclusion and certification.
Since then, several contracts have been signed for series production, development, logistics and, currently, modernization and adjustment to the A-1M aircraft.
As soon as we took on the task of finishing the development of the SCP-01, we at MECTRON noticed the need to improve the control and aiming of the antenna. The Servo unit was redesigned, the engines powering the elevation and azimuth axes have been replaced. This redesign effort resulted in better control e placement for the antenna, as well as more indigenous components included in the Servo unit manufacturing.
After “Safety of Flight” (SOF) trials with ne new Servo unit, new models of the SCP-01 were built for the in-flight tests, in order to assess the system’s capability to operate in real-life conditions. The results of these trials were very positive – the equipment proved its high performance and operational capabilities.

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