On the front line, a Royal Navy warship needs to be fast, agile and, most important of all, remain undetected by the enemy. So, how do you go about making a 500ft ship ‘invisible’?
Engineers at QinetiQ’s Funtington site are working alongside the MOD to ensure that their assets have all the necessary stealth capabilities to keep them off the radar. This is achieved through the use of antenna and radar cross-section measurements. The aim is to use testing and analysis to improve the radar signature of whole platforms, combat systems or individual items of equipment.
The team carries out work across the UK from Carlisle through to the Aberporth Range in Wales, where they have conducted radar cross-section assessments on the new Watchkeeper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The team has also been closely involved in the development of the Type 45 Destroyer through the completion of acceptance signature measurement trials. As a result, this warship has brought a new level of signal reduction to the Royal Navy fleet.
Around 90 per cent of the team’s work is carried out for the MOD but they also undertake commercial work in a range of markets, including the yachting industry. QinetiQ assisted the official investigation into the tragic incident involving the Pride of Bilbao ferry and the Ouzo yacht in 2006. Since then, the team has helped to raise awareness in the industry about the importance of having radar reflectors fitted to small vessels.
More recently, the team has been involved in testing wind turbines that do not interfere with air surveillance radar signals. This is a great example of using military know-how spinning out into new areas.