Detect to Defeat

AN/TPQ-53 radars
Nearly 200 AN/TPQ-53 radars are operational with the US Army and international customers. Lockheed Martin is improving radar performance on the AN/TPQ-53 as part of a July 2021 contract. (Lockheed Martin)

A new generation of ground-based radars now entering service are delivering dramatic leaps in performance.

The modern battlefield features a bewildering and complex array of threats, which have made today’s operational scenarios increasingly unpredictable and challenging. The growth of asymmetrical threats and emerging multi-domain dynamics are increasingly driving the need for mobile, modular and interconnected sensor networks to deliver the required situational awareness for warfighters to react to fast emerging threats on the battlefield.

Since the emergence of radar in WWII, it has played a key role in defeating the element of surprise for the warfighter and remains a war winning capability on the modern battlefield even today. Today’s radars need to cater for a wide range of threats ranging from hypersonic weapons and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to rockets, artillery shells and low and slow flying drones. They also need to operate effectively in the highly contested Electromagnetic spectrum.

Interoperability, flexibility and speed of deployment are the key virtues in modern battlefield radars and the emergence of Gallium Nitride (GaN) semiconductors and Active Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA) radar technology, have dramatically transformed the ability of these radars to recognise and track the latest threats in a timely manner. The latest generation of advanced battlefield radars feature detection ranges that belie their size while AESA technology allows the radar beam to be pointed towards areas of interest. These new radars are also often portable, require less power and are far more maintenance friendly than the previous generation of radars.

Close to the Fight

Leonardo’s latest offering in the multi-domain radar segment is its new Tactical Multi-Mission Radar (TMMR), which was unveiled at Eurosatory 2022. “Many customers worldwide have already shown their interest and we are negotiating with some of them,” a Leonardo official informed AMR. The AESA sensor based TMMR uses GaN semiconductors and weighs less than 50 kg making it easily transportable and deployable. The C-band TMMR was designed from the start to support ground forces in the detection, classification and tracking of small and fast-moving aerial targets, including mini- and micro–Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).

It can detect, classify and track small and fast-moving aerial threats and its coverage capacity can be extended up to 360° with a detection range of 7 – 25 km (depending on the size of the target). The fully digitalised TMMR can not only be used only as a counter-drone (C-UAS) and Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) system, but also for short-range air defence, surveillance and protection of platforms and vehicles, borders, territories and critical infrastructure.

Tactical Multi-Mission Radar
Leonardo’s new Tactical Multi-Mission Radar, has attracted customer interest since it was unveiled at Eurosatory 2022, company officials say. The TMMR weighs less than 110lbs (50 kg). (Leonardo)

Saab’s Giraffe 1X is a lightweight short-range X-band radar. It won another customer in December 2022, with Latvia ordering it along with the RBS 70 NG Ground Based Air Defence System (GBADS). The 3D AESA radar features GaN circuits and has a detection range of 75 km and with its mast extended can detect large aircraft at a distance of up to 100 km. The Giraffe 1X can be used for GBADS, C-UAS and site protection as well as for naval applications. The Sea Giraffe 1X offered for naval applications delivers outstanding short-range radar performance and can fill close-range radar gaps on naval vessels. The Sea Giraffe 1X radars have been selected for the German Navy’s Brandenburg-Class frigates (F123) and the Finnish Navy’s Pohjanmaa Class Corvettes.

With Saab’s Enhanced Low, Slow and Small (ELSS) functionality, the Giraffe 1X can detect and classify objects as small as hobby store drones at large distances, while at the same time, distinguishing them from birds, which have very similar movement patterns. According to Saab, the Giraffe 1X can detect an UAV lighter than a milk carton as far as 4 km away. It has as a total system weight of less than 150 kg with a topside weight of 100 kg. The heaviest component of the radar weighs less than 60 kg.

Saab also offers the Giraffe 1X radar in a Mobile Short-Range Air Defence (MSHORAD) system with the RBS 70 NG Mobile Firing Unit connected to Saab’s GBAD C2 solution mounted on vehicle. The first live firing was made in September 2022 with potential customers from 15 nations in attendance. The Giraffe 1X can be used either as a mobile, deployable or a fixed asset for short-range surveillance and GBAD.

Saab’s Giraffe
Saab’s Giraffe 1X lightweight short-range X-band radar can detect a UAV lighter than a milk carton as far as 2.4 miles (4km) away. Latvia ordered the radars in December 2022 for their Saab RBS 70 NG GBADS. (Saab)

Denmark based Weibel Scientific says it is experiencing strong demand for its advanced XENTA radars, which entered the market in November 2020. It began deliveries of the first XENTA radars to the Norwegian Air Defence Forces in 2022. Thales purchased 12 XENTA radars in January 2022 which it will look to integrate into its GBAD solutions to offer a common solution for a Danish Army GBAD need.

Weibel Scientific is offering the XENTA-C1 and XENTA-C3 for drone detection and tracking needs, while the XENTA-M1, XENTA-M3 and XENTA-M5 are being offered for Short Range Air Defense applications (SHORAD). The new radars can detect a drone, the size of fist from over 10 km away. The XENTA-M5 can detect commercially available drones, such as DJI’s Phantom-4 up to 10 km away. The company has invested heavily in the development of the new air defence radar, says CEO Frode Scott Nilsen, adding that it offers an unmatched technology that is two steps ahead of the market.

The Danish firm is also continuing with the development of its Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW)-radar technology, which could likely be incorporated into future NATO Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) systems. In January 2022, the U.S. Missile Defence Agency and the Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organization announced that they would continue to collaborate on the development of FMCW-radar technology. The BMD arena is a strong area of focus for the company, where it is investing significant resources. Weibel Scientific is targeting grow its revenue to DKK 1 billion and increase its employee strength to 500 by FY 2025/26.

XENTA M-Version
Denmark based Weibel Scientific’s XENTA family of radars includes the XENTA-C1, XENTA-C3 for drone detection and tracking and XENTA-M1, XENTA-M3 and XENTA-M5 for SHORAD applications. (Weibel Scientific)

Lockheed Martin has delivered 195 AN/TPQ-53 (Q-53) Multi-Mission Radars (MMR) to the U.S. Army and international partners (Singapore). The rapidly deployable truck-based Q-53 is the U.S. Army’s next-generation counterfire radar and locates the origins and expected impact locations of incoming threat mortar rounds, artillery rounds, and rockets. It has seen combat service since 2010. Lockheed Martin had obtained three contracts from the U.S. Army in August 2019 to deliver 15 additional Q-53 systems and upgrade the radar with increases in range and addition of C-UAS capabilities.

In October 2022, the U.S. Army successfully integrated a Q-53 with an Army command and control system and provided tracking data to launch a C-UAS defeat system. The Q-53 was integrated with a Forward Area Air Defence Command and Control (FAAD C2) system to serve as the primary fire control source for the Coyote Block 2 C-UAS defeat system during the tests held in Yuma, Arizona. Lockheed Martin received an upgraded contract for the Q-53 in July 2021 and is incorporating enhancements to improve radar performance and including support for Long Range Precision Fires along with Air and Missile Defence missions.

The Q-53 replaced the U.S. Army’s legacy AN/TPQ-36 and AN/TPQ-37 ‘Firefinder’ medium-range radars. The solid-state phased array Q-53, detects, classifies, tracks and determines the location of enemy indirect fire in either 360° (Mortar: 3-15 km; Artillery: 5-20 km; Rocket 5-20 km) or 90° (Mortar: .5-20 km; Artillery: 3-34 km; Rocket: 5-60 km) modes in a full-spectrum environment. The legacy AN/TPQ-37 radars, could detect rounds within a selected 90° sector only. The Q-53 offers a probability of indirect fire location greater than or equal to 85% in clutter-free and clutter environments. It is requiring an operating crew of five soldiers and is transportable by C-17 aircraft.

AN/TPQ-53 radars
Nearly 200 AN/TPQ-53 radars are operational with the US Army and international customers. Lockheed Martin is improving radar performance on the AN/TPQ-53 as part of a July 2021 contract. (Lockheed Martin)

Winning Combination

The Kronos family of air surveillance radars are at the heart of Leonardo’s portfolio. The radars have found customers in in Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and South America with over 50 of them in service. Leonardo announced in July 2022, that the Greek Air Force selected the Kronos Grand Mobile High Power (GM HP) radar as the integrated air and missile defence system for use at the NATO Missile Fire Installation (NAMFI) on the Isle of Crete. Leonardo will deliver the radar to Greece in 2024. The Kronos GM HP will also be the surveillance and engagement radar for the Italian version of the Eurosam Consortium’s (MBDA 66,6% and Thales Group 33,3%) SAMP/T New Generation Surface-To-Air Missile (SAM) system.

The Kronos GM HP is the latest evolution of the Kronos family, which features the KRONOS for short-range applications, KRONOS GRAND for medium and long-range surveillance, KRONOS POWER SHIELD for ultra-long-range surveillance and the KRONOS DUAL BAND for use in the naval domain with a new fixed four-face dual-band AESA radar. A new development is the Kronos Power Shield which operates in the L-band and was specifically designed for long range Anti Tactical Ballistic Missile (ATBM) capabilities.

The Giraffe 4A C-band medium-range multi-functional radar and Giraffe AMB S-band air and sea surveillance and target indication radars are the other members of the Saab’s Giraffe family. The company launched a new mobile high-mast solution for its Giraffe 4A radar in November 2021, to meet modern threats of low altitude such as cruise missiles and UAVs in the battlefield of today. The Giraffe 4A combines elements from Saab’s Arthur and Giraffe AMB product families with an all-new AESA radar and has been ordered by Sweden.

The Giraffe AMB surveillance radar system is a vital component of the United Kingdom’s Sky Sabre GBADS system. The UK is the largest operator of land-based Giraffe AMB radars in the world, with at least 10 systems known to have been delivered. Saab commenced Giraffe AMB deliveries to the UK in 2010 with the tenth system delivered in June 2018. The Giraffe AMB provides a full 360° update of the air situation, scanning the airspace every second out to ranges of 120 km. The highly mobile platform can undertake simultaneous detection and tracking of aircraft, missiles, rockets and drones. France, another operator of the Giraffe AMB entered into an upgrade and life extension contract for its radars with Saab in December 2020. The upgraded radars will remain operational use up to at least 2033. Saab received the initial order for the Giraffe AMB systems and command and control shelter from France in 2001.

Hensoldt’s TRML-4D is an AESA-radar which can detect and track approximately 1,500 targets out to ranges of 250 km. In October 2022, the company announced that it would deliver four TRML-4D radars to be integrated into Diehl Defence’s IRIS-T SLM air defence systems destined for Ukraine. One of the radar systems has already been delivered and deliveries of the remaining three will take place in early 2023. Hensoldt had announced in April 2022, that it would enhance its cooperation with Diehl Defence on the IRIS-T SLM on which the TRML-4D radar is integrated and its passive Twinvis radar is optional. The IRIS-T SLM delivers 360° all-round protection with the ability to engage targets out to ranges of 40 km and at an altitude of 20 km. Hensoldt and Diehl Defence are also working on the IRIS-T SLX, which is a planned upgrade to the existing IRIS-T SLM system and will be able to engage targets as far away as 80 km and flying at altitudes of up to 30km.

TRML-4D radars
Ukraine is to receive four Hensoldt’s TRML-4D radars as part of Diehl Defence’s IRIS-T SLM SAM system. (Hensoldt)

Accelerated Advantage

The Sentinel A4 (AN/MPQ-64) is a Lockheed Martin upgrade of Raytheon’s Sentinel A3 (AN/MPQ-64A3) radar. The upgraded radar will provide the U.S. Army with far improved detection capability as against cruise missiles, UAS, rotary wing and fixed wing, and rocket, artillery, and mortar threats. The legacy Sentinel A3 was a X-Band, 360-degree phased array air defence radar with an instrumented range of 75-km. Over 300 systems are operational worldwide.

Lockheed Martin received an initial accelerated contract for the first five Sentinel A4 radars in May 2022 from the U.S. Army’s Search, Track, Acquire, Radiate, Eliminate (STARE) Project Office and U.S. Army Sentinel Product Office. The first radar was completed in August 2022, five months ahead of schedule and deliveries to the U.S. Army begin in March 2023. The project has been on an accelerated development schedule since Lockheed Martin received a US$281-million contract for 18 Sentinel A4 systems in September 2019.

An upgrade of Raytheon’s Sentinel A3 (AN/MPQ-64A3) radar, Lockheed Martin’s Sentinel A4 (AN/MPQ-64) radar is on accelerated development schedule. (Lockheed Martin)

The Sentinel A4 will feature enhanced surveillance, detection, and classification capabilities to protect U.S. Army manoeuvre formations and its open scalable radar architecture will allow for evolving threats to be addressed only with software modifications. Lockheed Martin also significantly leveraged the Sentinel A4 radar’s design for the company’s TPY-4 ground based air surveillance radar. “Commonality across the radar portfolio enable sustainment efficiencies and significant cost savings for our customers. Our scalable technology, coupled with these efficiencies, has resulted in significant international interest in both the Sentinel A4 and TPY-4 radars to replace older assets that simply cannot be upgraded to match what our next generation systems are offering,” said Chandra Marshall, Vice President and General Manager of Lockheed Martin’s Radar and Sensor Systems business.

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) announced in March 2022, that Lockheed Martin was the winner of the Air Force’s Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar, (3DELRR) Rapid Prototyping programme. Lockheed Martin’s AN/TPY-4 (V)1 will now replace the ageing, decades old TPS-75 radar. The new radar will be the principal USAF ground-based sensor for long range surveillance, detection and tracking of aerial targets. The other two contenders were Northrop Grumman, and Australian firm CEA.

Lockheed Martin’s AN/TPY-4 (V)1 will replace the long-serving TPS-75 radar with up to 35 of the former to be acquired. The Royal Norwegian Air Force became the first TPY-4 export customer in November 2022. (Lockheed Martin)

The USAF could acquire up to 35 AN/TPY-4s under the 3DELRR contract and deliveries are slated to begin in 2024. Lockheed Martin completed production of the first TPY-4 in May 2022. The Royal Norwegian Air Force emerged as the first export customer for the TPY-4 in November 2022. The TPY-4 radar consists of over 1,000 elements that can essentially act as a miniature radar system. In 360-degree coverage mode the radar has a range of 550 km, which increases to 1,000 km in ‘Stop & Stare’ mode.

The next generation air defence radar will be able to detect small targets at longer ranges and offer enhanced electronic protection measures and target tracking. The radar features a revolutionary radar architecture with GaN amplifiers, high density antenna electronics and Graphics Processing Unit-based data processing. According to Lockheed Martin, the radar can be prepared for new missions simply with software upgrades instead of more time-consuming and expensive architectural or hardware changes. The TPY-4 will be available in both fixed and highly-mobile variants and will be transportable via C-130, C-17, truck, rail, or helicopter.

by Mike Rajkumar