Plextek’s Blighter B400 series radars improve Heathrow’s perimeter security

The Blighter B400 series electronic scanning radars – with Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) and Doppler processing – form part of an integrated perimeter security system at Heathrow, developed and supplied to BAA plc, the airport operator, by Touchstone Electronics, a specialist security provider to the UK airport industry. The airport perimeter surveillance solution includes long-range day and night cameras and a network of high definition cameras, that are capable of quickly identifying and tracking intruders detected by the Blighter radar.

Andy Cowen, BAA’s Security Development Manager said: “We needed a highly reliable, maintenance-free system that could provide intensive 24-hour surveillance of key areas of the airport in all weather and light conditions. The Blighter Doppler system is technically superior to anything else we’ve seen and met our requirements in full, and since deployment has led to considerable operational savings, reduced security staff costs, with a marked improvement in detection.

“Installation costs were also minimal as Blighter’s long-range detection capability and wide elevation beam allow the radars to be remotely mounted on existing airport infrastructure thus avoiding digging up airport surfaces to lay cables. Blighter is also particularly effective in the airport environment as it is able to monitor movement between different security zones.”

Mark Radford, director of the Blighter Group at Plextek, said: “We are delighted that the major benefits of our Blighter radar are being recognised by busy international airports such as Heathrow and at other airports in the United States, Europe and Africa.”

Heathrow Airport is the world’s busiest international airport and the hub of the civil aviation world. Over 67 million passengers travel through the airport annually on services offered by 90 airlines travelling to over 180 destinations in over 90 countries.

Blighter radars are suited to airport security applications due to their long-range detection capability (10m to 2km in steps up to 32km), 20º wide elevation beam and their ability to detect very small and slow targets even in cluttered environments. The Blighter radar’s low-power FMCW electronic signature is also compatible with other airport communications and navigation equipment.

“Our radar’s eagle-eye view can look over the top of obstructions and uneven ground giving it a continuous, unobstructed view of critical perimeter areas,” added Mark Radford. “This is a major advantage over traditional surface mounted radars which suffer substantial blockage from local buildings, infrastructure and airport vehicles including aircraft.”

Blighter radars are used worldwide in commercial, government and defence markets in area and asset protection for national border security, homeland security, critical infrastructure protection, coastal surveillance, and in defence applications. Blighter radars provide an unmatched combination of high reliability, accuracy and performance with a low cost of ownership.


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