back to article MoD in £1.75m rush order for SAS backpack radars

Here at the Farnborough Air Show, the emphasis is mostly on flying machines and associated sky-tech. But there are a few exhibitors who don't have their heads in the clouds. One such company is Plextek, an electronic engineering consultancy outfit based in Cambridge, which is here this week showing off its portable battery- …


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  1. Ishkandar

    Nonsense !!

    >> "Blighter radars offer exceptional target detection performance in rocky, mountainous terrain". So that would be Afghanistan, then.

    They are operating against the sheep-botherers in an undisclosed rocky, hilly country closer to home.

  2. Secretgeek

    Couldn't they have just gone with BLER?

    Hmm...maybe not.

    Still looks like an incredibly useful piece of kit. Detecting a crawling man at 1.5K? Impressive, very impressive.

    Rig a network of them to one of the gunbots they're working on and there'll be no sneaking up on our 7.62mm armed robotic masters then!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >hostile but sparsely-inhabited country

    >based at Hereford

    I know it's near Wales, but....

    They need to hook this up to artillery, then all you need is a big red "Go" button.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Mute button

    "and be set to sound different audible warnings for different types of target"

    I suppose the Special Forces bods may appreciate a mute button while out in the field.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    I wonder

    if the Mericuns have thought about using these for that troublesome bit of boarder to their south?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Mute button


    "That'll be a cow then, quite possibly a Hereford......"

  7. Tim Elphick

    Based in Cambridge?

    Why don't we just buy the more effective and no doubt cheaper version from the yanks?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I don't believe it!

    A defence product that does something useful!

    A defence product that works!

    A defence product costing less than £100k a pop!

    Explanation: BAE not involved.

    Advice to MOD: buy what you need before BAE steps in and fucks things up.

    Nice to see that UK companies can still turn out world class kit though...

  9. Joe K

    @i wonder

    Useful for american boarder patrol?

    Oh yes, but that would make too much sense, and not line the pockets of numerous CEO's and politicians with fanciful ideas about Eye of Sauron type towers and satellite tracking.

    Leave it to Blighty to keep it cheap and useful, a dying art.

  10. Tim


    Finally, a perimiter defence system for the remote retreat I'm preparing to wait out the zombie apocalypse.

    It's perfect - before this came along I was counting on sentries (vulnerable); PIR wouldn't work as zombies are dead, hence cold. This can even distinguish between the undead and any living raiders trying to bespoil the womenfolk and steal our gruel.

  11. Steve Babb
    Dead Vulture

    The real money....

    ...lies in being able to hide from pieces of kit like this.

    Subsidise the system so any tinpot dictatorship can buy one, then keep the anti-radar blankets for your own special forces troops at £120k a pop.

    There goes another pesky blighter

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Black Lighter

    that is all.

  13. Peter W

    I'd like to read about it in action not just a rehash of their marketing

    "must have line of sight"

    "incredible performance in rocky, mountainous terrain"

    rocky, mountainous terrain normally have these little things called big rocks and mountains that block LOS....

    will it only pick up people as well - or, more likely, will every random passing sheep set it off....

    seems like Lewis loves the concept (and there is nothing wrong with that) but is basing his pro-piece purely on their marketing, which could be BS.

  14. Mr Fury

    Wait til Google get ahold of these...

    I was wondering about mashing up this with Google Maps or Earth, then I figured that Google will eventually just extend Street View with these!

  15. Alan Edwards
    IT Angle

    Car mount?

    I could do with one of these on my car, I can think of a few 'floor it and hope' near-blind junctions it would help at.

    Also, it wouldn't be a lot of use on the US border. The top-whack range is 8km, so you'd need one at least every 4 miles (to give a bit of overlap) and that would only find the pick-up trucks. To find people you'd need one every half-mile. The US/Mexico border is 1969 miles long.

    At 60k a pop it's probably still cheaper than the current border project, but you'd have to find a way to power 4000 of things in such a way that the cables won't get nicked for the scrap copper.

  16. John Chadwick

    Hmmmm..What about the wild life?

    How can you tell the difference between a crawling man and a sheep at 1500m, apart from the wellies?

    Seriously though picking up a moving biological object with radar isn't much use unless you can tell what it is, and where it is. I'd have thought a crawling man or sheep, at 1.5Km = Water Buffalo at 2Km, Cat at 1km and rat at .5Km.

    So attaching it to a visual recognition system might help.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Minor correction

    @i wonder, old chap /ess - that is "United States of America Border Patrol" - otherwise it's Rigsby looking for Miss Jones (God I feel old !!)

    Mine's the one with "Born to Pedant" on it.

  18. Starace


    Don't we already have a man portable radar system? Not the newest of things, but still not too shabby.

    On paper it might weigh twice as much, but that includes the whole kit. Including the terminal for display & control.

    It also has the advantage of being a proper field tested bit of MIL-Spec equipment, Blighter on the other hand looks a bit fragile e.g. connectors that you'll snap off, and a not very robust tripod. And an MSTAR will work in extreme temperatures & conditions that would kill a 'rugged' laptop.

    Then there's compatibility - standard equipment interfaces, and it runs on the standard radio batteries (or even a pack of AA's) rather than some unique to type lithium job.

    I also believe the radar detection and target identification is rather effective too. Certainly you can identify someone just from them standing and breathing.

    Not that Blighter is a bad bit of equipment. It's just that it looks like you get what you pay for, and it isn't a complete package or necessarily up to a full-on field deployment.

    Probably OK as a network of 'cheap' sensors on a perimeter though, and given how things are in Afghanistan I guess that's how they'll be used rather than the way an MSTAR is usually deployed.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    @ secretgeek

    1.5km might be a bit far out for a 7.62mm-armed droid to hit - best upgrade it so it's toting a .50 cal....then it's guarateed to give the crawling ne'er-do-well an easy lead enema from afar.

    It'll be just about hard-hitting enough to drop the walking man at 3km as well then.


  20. Frank Bough

    Blighter My Arse

    Surely we could get any number of Chinooks for the money we're wasting on this system? Why oh why can't the whirlybird-dodging donkeys directing our SAS lions realise that the only weapon they need is a massive fleet of Chinooks? I despair, I really do.

  21. James Hughes

    re: Hmmmm..What about the wild life?

    First things first - it find something moving, then you LOOK to see what it is....those new fangled binoculars would be good for that, with this kit telling you where to look.

    Excellent, as Mr Burns would say.

  22. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Old chestpack radar kits.

    If I remember rightly, this is not a new idea, and what killed the old one was doppler radar had a real problem differentiating between real people moving around and branches moving in a breeze. Unless the back-end software has improved I'd still prefer a thermal imaging backup to help identify the false alarms.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >crawling man and a sheep at 1500m

    You mean you may be concerned about accidentally blowing a sheep to smithereens?

  24. Gary

    Nothing new under the sun!

    Old chestpack radar kits.

    Absolutely right,Matt. In 1971 I was on the permanent staff at the School of Signals, Blandford Forum in Dorset. At the nearby Royal Radar Establishment at Malvern they had the newly developed "man pack" man portable radar on trial. Trouble was,it took THREE men to make it man portable! It was on field trials and was intended for the infantry. I always wondered what happened to this "Gee-Whiz" technology,for that is what this seeemed like at the time. We used to swap yarns,(and a lot of "Bullshit") with the guys at Malvern.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    6 hours?

    Answer Yes/No

    - self destructs

    - recharges easily in the field

    - 15 Kg means no food

    - 15 Kg means no ammunition

    - 15 Kg means be tougher

    - blighter refers to the person and group that as to carry it as in poor blighter

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @ Frank Bough

    "Surely we could get any number of Chinooks for the money we're wasting on this system?"

    They're spending £1.75 on Bligher, you'd probably have to spend about 10 times that to by a new Chinook, if any were available which they aren't.

    The MoD have tried to buy more from Boeing but there aren't any currently available

  27. Ishkandar

    Assorted comments

    @Mute button - No mate. The "real" boys just use a Swiss army knife to cut the link to the speaker. Only wimps ned the noises to tell them what is what.

    @Chris Roughneen - Have you tried to hit anything at 3 Km ?? Just the windage will make sure you miss *everytime* !!

    @AC - 15 Kg means no food - Maybe for wimps like you. Real men carry standard 30 Kg packs in addition to their rifle, ammo and other bits and bobs like two 1.5L water bottles when operating in rather dry climes !! This is no different from machinegunners and their gunner's mate who have to carry a heavy machinegun, tripod and lots of ammo and still find room for the food and other necessities !! Otherwise, operating for 30 days at the front on one pair of nickers will get you classified as a WMD (Weapon of Mass Disgust) !!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Tim Elphick

    Buy the US stuff, thats what they use to kill friendly troops???? yes we love yank crap.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    @ Ishkandar.

    Carlos Hathcock managed a good hit with a .50 cal at >2km in ' did a Canadian sniper in Afghanistan more recently.

    Besides, we're talking about robots doing the shooting here not humans!

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