The map-referenced navigation system was designed to allow safe low-level flight without the need for forward-looking radar to define the terrain in front of the aircraft. This method was made possible by the developing technique of digital mapping, the ability to store large quantities of data, accessibly, linked with GPS and other conventional navigation aids. The aircraft installation, including the MonoHUD, provided a demonstration of the principal benefits of a highly integrated system. It involved the specification and procurement of databases, extensive algorithm design and requirements capture for future systems.
To underpin the fidelity of the databases and the overall system integrity, the development of a covert sensor to detect obstacles not included in the database was introduced. This sensor began development with the LOCUS system, a CO2 laser radar developed by GEC to meet a US Navy requirement for obstacle detection. With the basics established with LOCUS, CLARA became the product definition. An early development of CLARA is illustrated in the nose cone of XW750, the aircraft also having high visibility propellers (picture right above).
CLARA was specific to the detection of cables and the development was done in collaboration with France, Dassault Electronique, with GEC as the prime UK contractor. Two sets of equipment were produced, one for each nation. Development flying in XW750 continued into the late 1990s, successfully demonstrating the world’s first multi-mode laser radar. CLARA demonstrated a highly effective method for obstacle detection including cables in front of the aircraft’s flight path. These systems were selected by the RAF for Tornado GR4 equipment update but because of cost it was not implemented.