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Active radar H

refl ectors
Sea-Me have had a near-monopoly on the active radar refl ector market, but now
there’s competition from the new Echomax Active-X RTE. David Pugh reports
eing seen at sea is down by ISO8729. Although not a 4,500 units on the water today, regarded as jamming, and is likely
literally a matter of legal requirement, this international proved the pattern wrong and to fall foul of the law.
life and death, so it’s standard for radar refl ectors benefi ted from being the only RTE Instead, an RTE improves the
hardly surprising provides a benchmark to indicate in Qinetiq’s test, but now there’s a vessel’s radar cross-section (RCS),
that so much interest how visible a small boat would be new player. Echomax have a good which is effectively how refl ective a
was taken in the questions at sea when fi tted with a refl ector. reputation in the fi eld of passive target is to radar pulses – not how
raised by the Ouzo disaster and Sea-Me’s success was down to radar refl ectors, so it’s not surprising big it is. As an analogy, imagine
the subsequent Qinetiq lab test one simple difference with the to see them launch a rival to the two identical objects at sea on a
on radar refl ectors. And one of competition. Where the other Sea-Me with their Active-X RTE. pitch-dark night, one painted white
the results of that report was a refl ectors are passive and just and the other matt black. If you
statement that ‘the Sea-Me is the refl ect part of an incident radar What is an RTE? panned across the horizon with a
recommended product if power pulse, Sea-Me is active and sends The principle behind an RTE is that searchlight, you would certainly
is available’. back a stronger return. it collects an incident radar pulse see the white object, but probably
The justifi cation is clear: despite Such devices are generically and sends back a much stronger not the black, despite their being
reasonable performance from known as Radar Target Enhancers pulse at the same frequency, the same size and shape.
some of the passive refl ectors (RTEs). Several RTEs have been resulting in a stronger signal at the Yachts tend to be poor refl ectors
tested, mixed with disconcertingly developed in the past (check www. receiver. One fallacy that should of radar, closer to the black than
poor results from others, the theradarrefl for a near- immediately be laid to rest is that the white object in the analogy. To
Sea-Me was the only product exhaustive list) but few seem to they make a small boat look like a improve this, adding a passive
which consistently met or have been commercially container ship on a radar picture. radar refl ector is like adding a
exceeded the requirements set successful. Sea-Me, who have over Confusing a radar in this way is mirror to the black object. Most of it ➜
Practical Boat Owner 513 September 2009 • 49
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