Radar reflector maker disappointed by articleJan 1, 2003
I was pleased that Ocean Navigator at long last published an article about radar reflectors ("Avoiding stealth," Issue No. 91). Although the article made a number of valid points and was technically correct, it left out important new technical information besides containing a few significant errors I would like to correct.
In regards to application of specification ISO 8729:1987 and IMO Resolution A384(X), Chuck Husick is in error when he states that these specifications apply to ships. They were especially formulated to apply to small craft displacing less than 100 gross tons. The objective of the writers of the specifications was to maximize the likelihood that these vessels can be detected visually or by the ARPA at a range that makes timely evasive maneuvers or warnings possible if required. Mr. Husick also neglected to mention that the Cyclops-3 is the only reflector on the world market that holds the ISO and IMO "type approved" certificate.
It is unfortunate that the article did not place greater emphasis on the fact that mounting a radar reflector to any position on a mast other than at the top will create a blind sector in which the effect of a reflector is reduced to zero. Sector width depends on mast diameter and several other factors but can easily amount to 30° or 40°. The Trading Standards Department in the United Kingdom labeled this problem a "serious safety hazard."
Also, the article erroneously included the following statement: "A 10-square-meter RCS is the equivalent of a theoretical sphere with a diameter of 1.78 meters or 5.8 feet." That should read a diameter of 3.56 meters or 11.6 feet.
I am disappointed that the article did not provide the readers with a full set of performance data, including polar plots with instructions on how to read them, plus the very complete information that I supplied for the Cyclops-2 and -3. As numerous accidents clearly show, common corner reflectors and fender-shaped units don't have the required RCS or horizontal coverage to ensure safe interaction with fast ships or high-powered small craft. The lack of performance of these reflectors was the major reason for the development of the Cyclops line of reflectors.