A novel approach to the design of spatial arrays is presented. The hybrid array beamformer consists of a sparse array in which some of the elements are arranged periodically, thus creating a periodic sub-array. The outputs of the sparse and periodic arrays are then fused to create a beampattern with good resolution and low peak sidelobe levels. This approach is seen as matching the performance of standard periodic arrays but with a significant saving in terms of the required number of elements. Applications include sonar, radar and ultrasonic systems. © The Institution of Engineering and Technology 2007.