British airport operator BAA has moved to step up security at Heathrow airport with the installation of a new advanced radar technology system, which will provide enhanced perimeter monitoring on site.
The system was first developed by Cambridge-based firm Plextek, which has already supplied similar security surveillance tools for airports in the US, Europe and Africa.
BAA has adopted the firm's sophisticated Blighter B400 series radars at the Heathrow airport site as part of the new integrated perimeter security system developed and supplied by Touchstone Electronics, a specialist security firm with extensive experience in the UK airport industry.
Heathrow Radar Security
These radars offer a long-range detection capability with a range of ten metres to two kilometres in steps up to 32 kilometres. The systems 20 degree wide elevation beam and highly-sensitive detection programming also ensures small or slow targets are also effectively monitored in the busy and often cluttered environment of the airport.
Officials will also benefit from the Blighter radar's low-power FMCW electronic signature, which has been designed to be effectively integrated with other airport navigation and communication systems.
The system has been introduced as part of a complete airport perimeter surveillance system, that features long-range day and night cameras along with a range of high definition cameras designed to focus in on and identify any potential threats detected by the Blighter radar system.
BAA are placing a significant amount of trust in the surveillance radar system, with the Heathrow airport currently serving around 67 million passengers a year.
Radar Perimeter Security
But despite the pressure being placed on the Plextek creation, BAA security development manager Andy Cowen believes it to be an effective security tool.
"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," he explained. "The Blighter Doppler system is technically superior to anything else we've seen and met our requirements in full."
Mr Cowen also noted that the new system has not only allowed BAA to make considerable operational savings, through a reduction in staffing costs, but it has also provided a marked boost in on site threat detection.
Blighter radars are currently used in a range of commercial and governmental settings, providing assistance to homeland and national border security services as well as coastal surveillance and other defence-focused operations.
Photo © BAA Airports Limited