Navy's Tennis Ball-Hunting Radar Revealed

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A new radar that can detect a tennis ball travelling at three times the speed of sound from more than 15 miles away has been fitted to a Royal Navy warship.

The Artisan system, which was developed by BAE Systems (LSE: BA.L - news) , was installed on HMS Iron Duke, a Type 23 frigate.

BAE says the medium range 3D surveillance radar is five times more efficient than any other radar currently used by the fleet.

HMS Iron Duke is the first ship in the class to have received the new radar as part of its five-yearly refit and will return to service next year. 

The Artisan system is designed to detect smaller and quicker targets against a background of electronic noise and interference that can affect radar efficiency.

The new radar is also able to navigate its way through environments that are densely populated by other signals.

BAE said another major advantage of the Artisan system is the spread and range of targets it can track.

The system is capable of monitoring more than 800 objects at the same time - from the very small to the largest aircraft carriers and destroyers - at a range of between 200 and 200,000 metres.

The radar is being installed as part of a £100m programme to equip Type 23 frigates and amphibious ships.

It will also be used on the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, where it can be used to help the ships' air traffic controllers.

Artisan has been proposed for the new Type 26 frigates, which are due to come into service after 2020.

The radar is made out of the same lightweight carbonfibre materials found in Formula One racing cars.

Weighing 700kg, the Artisan system is designed to take a single team of engineers 21 days to fit, which is said to be a vast improvement on previous systems.

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