Flashhawk-Avantix
Avantix’ Flashhawk airborne COMINT system is currently undergoing flight tests onboard a King Air-350 expected to be completed by the end of this year. (Avantix)

By Dr. Thomas Withington, EW Europe, Stockholm – Avantix’ new Flashhawk airborne communications intelligence system could complete development by the end of the year.

The firm is currently performing flight tests of the COMINT (Communications Intelligence) system on board a Beechcraft King Air-350 twin turbofan transport from Aix-en-Provence in southern France.

The Flashhawk covers a three megahertz/MHz to three gigahertz waveband. This allows the equipment to gather COMINT concerning a wide array of emitters. These includes standard military tactical radios and civilian telecommunications transmitting in high frequency (three megahertz to 30MHz), very high frequency (VHF: 30MHz to 300MHz) and ultra high frequency (UHF: 300MHz to three gigahertz).

Alongside these Flashhawk can gather COMINT regarding satellite communications operating within this waveband, and cellular traffic. Company officials speaking to the author during the EW Europe exhibition being held in Stockholm between 14 May and 15 May said that the Flashhawk can demodulate a range of communications protocols and that the system’s unique attributes include its ability to generate highly precise geolocation and direction-finding of emitters. This is because the system can generate both azimuth and elevation information.

The Flashhawk can be slaved to an aircraft’s optronics thus enabling the collection of imagery intelligence vis-à-vis COMINT targets of interest. The officials continued that this information can be gathered in a near instantaneous fashion.

From an operator’s perspective, Flashhawk can be used either on the aircraft, or can transmit its data in real time for off-board analysis. This is done through the use of an RF (Radio Frequency) datalink, which transmit the data to a server or laptop hosting the Flashhawk software. The aircraft’s mission fit includes an antenna, receiver/processing unit and an optional datalink should the user wish to perform off-board analysis. Although the Flashhawk is currently being flown on-board a King Air-350 the company emphasises that it can equip a wide array of platforms including helicopters, and large unmanned aerial vehicles. The company said that it is currently in discussions with unnamed customers regarding initial procurements of the product.

by Dr. Thomas Withington