FlashHawk is designed to enable small airborne platforms to perform 3D geolocation of communications emitters. (Avantix)
French electronic warfare (EW) house Avantix has begun initial production of its FlashHawk airborne communications intelligence/communications electronic support measures (COMINT/CESM) system in anticipation of launch orders.
Intended for integration on a range of air platforms – including fixed-wing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft; helicopters; unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs); and balloons – FlashHawk has been designed as a low-size, weight, and power (SWaP) CESM sensor that can provide instantaneous detection, characterisation, localisation, and identification of short-burst emitters in the VHF/UHF (30–3,000 MHz) communication bands. The system uses a patented compact antenna design to achieve precise 3D geolocation (typically 1° RMS) that is sufficient for immediate cueing of an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor for real-time visualisation and video tracking.
According to Avantix, the antenna design and sensor processing implemented in FlashHawk can perform near-instantaneous location of ground-based communication emitters, including push-to-talk (PTT) radios, military radios, mobile telecommunications, and satellite telephones. Speaking to Janes at AOC Europe 2022 in Montpellier, Marc Houry, the company's director of product management, said that FlashHawk's key discriminator is its 3D geolocation capability. “Classical direction-finders give you azimuth, you need a communications channel to remain active for a sustained period,” he said. “But modern PTT radios transmit in very short bursts of just a few seconds.”
“FlashHawk offers a breakthrough in its ability to perform near instantaneous localisation in azimuth and elevation. So we are giving the user the ability to detect, characterise, and localise even very short burst emitters from a single platform to a level of accuracy that enables immediate identification with an IMINT [image intelligence] sensor. This means you can expand the radius of action and significantly increases mission productivity,” Houry added.