Acknowledging Sandia National Laboratories for its continued commitment to national security

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Solving Next-Generation Airborne Intelligence & Surveillance Problems.

Protecting national security by applying science to help detect, repel, defeat, or mitigate threats.

Sandia National Laboratories’ Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) systems enable a new product paradigm in radar capabilities and modalities. With the ability to shrink sensor size, increase resolution, raise image quality, and advance real–time on–board processing, Sandia has been dedicated to producing the continuous cycle of next generation systems for nearly three decades. Sandia specializes in the full system design of exquisite Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI), target recognition and other sensor systems for the Department of Defense, Other Government Agencies and industry partners.

(This video displays the advantages of all weather, day or night Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery. The video on the left is from Sandia’s VideoSAR system and the video on the right is of the same scene utilizing infrared video. Both of these videos came from the same aircraft and at precisely the same time.)


Since 1997, Sandia radars have been used to address critical military problems in all geographic Unified Combatant Commands (COCOMs). Sandia delivers complete solutions, including mission planning and Concept of Operations (CONOPS) development, hardware development, algorithm development, platform integration and Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination (PED). Sandia’s high impact, multimode Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) systems are reconfigurable for multiple missions and designed for newer “plug and play” systems. As a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) Sandia is committed to developing and deploying next generation pathfinder solutions to ensure the safety and security of our nation for generations to come.

Sandia has developed several impactful system solutions in the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) program. A selection of its achievements is listed below.

  • 1984-First vertical Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) (also known as a precision directional altimeter)
  • 1986-First real-time 1-meter resolution strip mapping Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
  • 1991 – First use of phase gradient autofocus in a real-time Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) (revolutionized image quality and is now commonly used in Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems). First near-real-time aided target recognition system with Tera-OP (1 trillion operations) computational throughput provided in partnership with DARPA
  • 1997-First 100-pound real-time processed Synthetic Aperture Radars (SAR) deployed operationally
  • 2000-First real-time digital terrain-elevation mapping done at Digital Terrain Elevation Data (DTED) Level 4/5 with a Ku-band Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IFSAR)
  • 2005 – First real-time, <6 inch resolution, sub 30lbs Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) to fly on an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
  • 2006-First real-time, fine resolution, imaging of Antarctic crevasses using miniature Synthetic Aperture (SAR) systems
  • 2008-First real-time, <6 inch resolution, strip mapping coherent change detection Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
  • 2009-First ever non-beta-zero bistatic radar images of the moon, mapping about two-thirds of the lunar surface from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) with the Mini-RF; also the first conversion of an orbiting Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) to a spacecraft uplink and downlink communications system, able to transmit and receive modulated signals from Earth, a technology that could allow future missions to save mass and power
  • 2010-First 60-pound, real-time processed Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) deployed for Counter-IED (C-IED) missions
  • 2011-First demonstration of Velocity Independent Continuous Tracking Radar (VICTR) allowing the ability to persistently track targets through all phases of motion using VideoSAR and Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI)
  • 2012 -First real-time processed VideoCCD operationally deployed system
(content credit:  Sandia National Laboratories, operated and managed by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation., California and New Mexico)

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