Army to Update Cold War Era Counterfire Radar (UPDATED)
The enhanced AN/TPQ-36 counterfire target acquisition radar (EG-36) detects incoming mortars, artillery rounds and missiles and can tell operators their point of origin. It is an upgrade over previous 1970s era radars that only scanned in 90-degree angles.
That was fine in the Cold War, when the Army expected to face adversaries on clearly defined battlefronts, but with forward operating bases in Iraq and Afghanistan surrounded by urban areas where insurgents can launch attacks from any direction, a 360-degree capability was needed.
Lockheed Martin displayed one of the new radars mounted on an armored vehicle at the Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, D.C., this week
After winning a quick reaction contract to rapidly field the system in 2008, Lockheed Martin delivered the first systems last year. It was already under development when the Army asked the contractor to speed up the fielding.
There are now five each in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Lee Flake, Lockheed Martin program director for the EQ-36. The radars can pinpoint the location from where a missile or mortar was launched and give troops a warning that there are incoming fires. It also works in conjunction with a counter-rocket artillery and mortar system to shoot down the projectile before it reaches the target.
The two previous models also required more personnel. The AN/ TPQ-36 (V) 8 requires eight soldiers to operate the systems and the AN/TPQ-37(v) 8 needs 12. The new system only needs four soldiers.
Automation allows the EQ-36 to be set up in five minutes and taken down and moved in two minutes, he said. The older models require 15 to 30 minutes to set up, he said. It can also be controlled remotely at distances up to a mile to provide further protection for the operators.
Lockheed Martin has now delivered 12 of the radars and is under contract for a total of 32. *Corrected 10/12/11 - Lockheed Martin has now delivered 14 of the radars.
The Army is carrying out a formal competition for an additional 140 radars. Lockheed Martin has already submitted its proposal and expects to have a decision from the Army by the first quarter of 2012, Flake said.