Matijs Heiligers

Senior Radar Technology Scientist

‘Working together with the very best experts helps me tremendously in my work and research.’

Ever since he studied Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft, Matijs has been fascinated by radars and all the technical ingenuity they involve. ‘In my opinion, radar systems are the most complex systems out there. They need to be capable of detecting objects a few thousand kilometres away, but also at close range. The systems incorporate antennas that can be as large as ten metres across, as well as chips measuring just a few millimetres and containing transistors smaller than a micrometre.’

Smarter radar systems

Matijs is a Senior Scientist at TNO’s Radar Technology department. Together with his colleagues, he is researching innovative radar systems. ‘An important task for us at TNO, as an independent research organisation, is advising the Dutch Ministry of Defence and civilian parties. When they are purchasing new systems, for example, we advise them on the requirements these systems should meet, and often we also test the systems after purchase.’ This also of course includes radar systems.

Different threats

‘From hypersonic targets coming at you at more than five times the speed of sound through to very small unmanned boats close by – if you look at today’s world, you can see more and more different types of threat,’ Matijs says. ‘That calls for radar systems that are adaptable and quick to respond.’


These new radar systems are not only about collaborating and sharing information; the systems will also be more adaptable. ‘We are researching how to make radars increasingly adaptive, for example. It will then be harder for the adversary to predict when and what the next radar broadcast will be. A major advantage of this is that it will be more difficult to fool the radar with jamming, which involves using previously transmitted radar signals. During this kind of research we often work together with international research institutes and major industrial partners at NATO level.’

Very best experts

‘The great thing about TNO is that we have all the knowledge needed in-house to really make our mark on the development of radar systems: in principle, we can make every part of a radar system ourselves. Within TNO we have people who are genuine leaders in their fields. Working together with the very best experts helps me tremendously in my work and research.’

Radar of the future

So what does the future look like for radar? Matijs can already picture it: ‘In the future, instead of separate radar systems there will be an integrated set of “radar suites”. Multiple radars will be interconnected, helping us observe the environment in the best possible way.’

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