Growlers for Growlers

The suggestion that the US could acquire two S-400 systems from Turkey has been unsurprisingly opposed by Russia. Such an acquisition could yield the US and her allies a treasure trove of intelligence.

A mooted plan for the US to buy S-400 SAM systems from Turkey could prompt a ELINT bonanza.

Senator John Thune, a Republican Senator from South Dakota has proposed that the US purchase the Almaz-Antey S-400 (NATO reporting name SA-21 Growler) long-range/high-altitude Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) systems that Turkey procured from Russia.

In 2017 Turkey procured two S-400 systems, a total of four battalions, for $2.4 billion with deliveries commencing in 2019. This threw a spanner in the works of plans by the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (THK/Turkish Air Force) to acquire Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning-II combat aircraft.

A total of 120 aircraft were expected to be acquired before the acquisition was cancelled by the administration of President Donald Trump in July 2019. The administration was concerned that the S-400’s sensors, principally its ground-based air defence and fire control radars, could collect sensitive information regarding the F-35A’s radar cross section and electromagnetic emissions.

The cancellation of the acquisition resulted in the four THK F-35As delivered to Luke airbase, Arizona, being rerolled to furnish the US Air Force.

Nyet from Moscow

Mr. Thune suggested that the US acquisition of both S-400 systems would remove them from Turkey and hence THK control allowing F-35A deliveries to continue. Russian lawmakers protested the proposal with Leonid Slutsky, chair of the Russian Duma (parliament) committee on international affairs, condemning Mr. Thune’s proposal as “unprincipled and cynical.”

It seems unlikely that such a purchase will occur in the near term. Such a move by Ankara would make Moscow hopping mad. Yet such a purchase by the US would offer serious benefits.

Intelligent Decision

Aside from resuming F-35A deliveries to Turkey, it would give the United States Air Force, and US armed forces in general, once of the world’s most advanced air defence systems to pour over at their leisure.

The US Department of Defence already possesses a smorgasbord of Soviet-era SAMs and ground-based air surveillance and fire control/ground-controlled interception radars. These have been sourced from a myriad of ex-Warsaw Pact countries. They are routinely used to provide realistic threats during US-based international air exercises like Red Flag.

The US Navy and USAF are both overhauling their Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defence (S/DEAD) postures. The US Navy is deploying the Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic warfare and S/DEAD aircraft, along with Northrop Grumman’s AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radar Guided Missile, a  variant of the venerable AGM-88 HARM (High Speed Anti-Radar Missile) family. The US Air Force is optimising the F-35A to perform S/DEAD using Northrop Grumman’s AGM-88F HCS (HARM Control System) AGM-88 variant.

US and allied aircraft operating over Syria have flown in airspace thought to be protected by the S-400. Russia has deployed two systems to the northwest of the country since 2015.

However, there is doubt in some quarters of the NATO electronic warfare community as to whether either system has been activated in full for fear that Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) regarding their 91N6 (NATO reporting name Big Bird) S-band (2.3 gigahertz/GHz to 2.5GHz/2.7GHz to 3.7GHz) and 96L6E (NATO reporting name Cheese Board) C-band (5.25GHz to 5.925GHz) early warning and target acquisition radar could be hoovered up by US and NATO ELINT aircraft.

For all intents and purposes much of the S-400’s design and capabilities remain a mystery. No wonder Moscow is nervous about NATO getting its hands on a couple.

Lanza Extravaganza

The UK’s acquisition of a single Indra Lanza LTR-25 deployable radar strengthens the British armed force’s operational/theatre level ground-based air defence.

The RAF’S procurement of a new Lanza LTR-25 radar will strengthen deployed, operational/theatre level ground-based air defence. (Indra)

The UK’s acquisition of a single Indra Lanza LTR-25 deployable radar strengthens the British armed force’s operational/theatre level ground-based air defence.

The UK has again strengthened its fleet of deployable radars. On 13 May Indra announced that the UK Ministry of Defence had procured a single Lanza LTR-25 L-band (1.215 gigahertz/GHz to 1.4GHz) ground-based air surveillance radar.

An official announcement from the company stated that the radar will equip the Royal Air Force (RAF) and delivery is expected by the end of the year. The radar has an instrumented range of 239 nautical miles/nm (444 kilometres/km). Although not articulated in the company’s press release the acquisition could be worth up to $13.4 million to the firm based on the derived price for this radar.The UK joins Argentina, Ecuador, Guatemala, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, Oman, Portugal, Rwanda, Thailand and Uruguay all of which have acquired variants of the Lanza radar over the past two decades. In British service the Lanza LTR-25 will supplement several deployable ground-based air surveillance radars. These include ten Saab Giraffe-AMB C-band (5.25GHz to 5.925GHz) ground-based air surveillance radars purchased and delivered between 2008 and 2018 jointly operated by the British Army and RAF. The Giraffe-AMB has an instrumented range of up to 54nm (100km) and is arguably configured to support short-to-medium range air defence. It is expected that  the Lanza LTR-25 will be provide surveillance to support theatre-level air defence.

Depeche Modes

Germany is modernising several of its MSSR-2000-I secondary radars to ensure Mode-5 compatibility
Germany is modernising several of its MSSR-2000-I secondary radars to ensure Mode-5 compatibility (Copyright – ChainHomeHigh)

European defence electronics specialist Airbus Defence and Space (formally Cassidian) has provided ChainHomeHigh with details regarding its planned modernisation of MSSR-2000-I secondary radars for the German Armed Forces.

In November 2013 the company revealed that it will upgrade these radars to so-called ‘Mode-5’ status. This programme will cover the conversion of existing MSSR-2000-Is used by the Luftwaffe (German Air Force), Deutsche Marine (German Navy) and the Heer (German Army) to Mode-5 status. Mode-5, which is employed for Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) tasks is a secure version of the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) 24-bit Mode-S protocol which is used to provide civilian aircraft identification and flight data information for air traffic control. All Mode-5 transmissions are encrypted and provide additional location information using the Global Positioning System satellite constellation.

Airbus Defence and Space has revealed to ChainHomeHigh that the contract to modernise these secondary radar systems which was awarded by the German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology (known by its German acronym BAAINBw) and In-Service Support will initially cover the modernisation of 14 MSSR-2000-I systems in use onboard several German Navy ships, and in service at several airbases around the country.

A spokesperson for the firm confirmed that all of the MSSR-2000-I radars in use with the German armed forces are already Mode-5 compatible, but that the contract awarded in November 2013 will ensure their compliance with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s Standardisation Agreement (STANAG) 4193. STANAG 4193 Parts 5 and 6 cover performance aspects of Mode-5. In addition, the contract also ensures compatibility with the ICAO’s Annex-10 convention on International Civil Aviation which pertains to Aeronautical Telecommunications procedures and Eurocontrol (the European body tasked with developing seamless European Air Traffic Management), European Mode S Station Functional Specification requirements. The spokesperson adds that the contract will see the modernisation of the cryptographic computers equipping the MSSR-2000-I via a software upgrade to enable them to handle Mode-5 traffic to these standards, along with legacy Mode-4 transmissions which provide a three-pulse reply to an encrypted IFF interrogation.

Airbus Defence and Space declined to provide a value for the initial contract saying that it amounted to a “multi-million Euro sum,” although the spokesperson did say that initial platform integration and acceptance will commence in 2014 and conclude in 2015, with the final deliveries of the 14 upgraded MSSR-2000-I systems being completed by 2017. Additional work for the company could include the upgrade of an additional 35 MSSR-2000-I radars operated by the German armed forces in a separate contract, alongside the modification of up to 600 Airbus defence and Space transponders used by the German Airforce to ensure that they are Mode-5 compatible. This too could be awarded in a separate contract.

The MSSR-2000-I works in tandem with Luftwaffe long-range air surveillance radars principally the air force’s four Hughes Air Defence (now Raytheon) HR-3000 S-band (2.3-2.5/2.7-3.7Ghz), its eight Lockheed Martin AN/FPS-117 400km L-band and six Thales GM-406 400-km S-band radars. All these systems feed radar information into the German Air Force’s MiRADNET radar network which supplies similar information into Germany’s civilian RADNET air traffic management network.

One of the key attractions of the MSSR-2000-I family, according to the Airbus Defence and Space, is that the entire radar is housed in a single box. This box is able to plug into any eight-metre (26-feet) antenna, with the whole system connecting to any air traffic control or integrated air defence network, using the ASTERIX radar data protocol.

In terms of performance the MSSR-2000-I family has an instrumented range of up to 613km (331nm), and can detect up to 1,500 targets across a 360º radius, 400 targets across a 45º segment of the sky and 110 targets in a 3.5º segment. Six radars comprise the MSSR-2000-I family including the MSSR-2000-I Mode 5/S 500 Watt and MSSR-2000-I Mode 5/S 1500 Watt single chain systems, the MSSR-2000-I Mode 5/S 2000 Watt variant and the MSSR-2000-I Mode 5/S 500 Watt Dual Redundant radar. This latter product includes two of the single chain 500 Watt interrogators, as does the MSSR-2000-I Mode 5/S 1500 Watt Dual Redundant radar along with the MSSR-2000-I Mode 5/S 2000 Watt Dual Redundant system which has two 2000 Watt single chain interrogators.

Irish Navy Moves Forward With New Radar

The Irish Navy will outfit two vessels with Kelvin Hughes’ SharpEye radar and MantaDigital radars over the next to years, as part of a bid to modernise the radars deployed on several of its vessels.

SharpEye is available in both S-band and X-band configurations. In S-band, the radar has a peak output power of 200 Watts, and an average output power of 20W. At a range of 20 nautical miles (twelve kilometres), the radar has a Pulse Repetition Frequency of 2,300 Hertz (Hz), which reduces to 1,180Hz at 48nm (89km). Up to 64 filters provide clutter discrimination, and the radar has optional frequency diversity. The X-band version of the radar has similar performance characteristics to its S-band cousin although the former’s average RF power is 26W. The Irish Navy is acquiring the S-band variant of the radar.

The roll-out of the SharpEye commenced in November 2012 when it was installed on the LÉ Niamh; a ‘Róisín’ class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV). Her sister, the LÉ Róisín, received her own SharpEye radar a few months later in 2013.  Additional installations on board the LÉ Samuel Beckett and the LÉ James Joyce, both ‘Samuel Beckett’ class OPVs, are expected by 2015. Along with the SharpEye S-band radar, these two latter vessels will receive the MantaDigital X-band radar. The Irish Navy says that, at present, there are no plans to outfit additional vessels with new radars, although a spokesperson adds that “this may be reviewed subject to operational requirements.”

In terms of the radars in use onboard other Irish Navy vessels at present, it is known that the single ‘Eithne’ class OPV has a Thales DA-05/4 S-band surface search radar, along with a single Decca (now Northrop Grumman) TM-1229C and 1692C navigation radar. The two OPVs of the ‘Emer’ class are outfitted with a single Kelvin Hughes Mk.IV navigation and Mk.VI surface search radar, while the two ‘Peacock’ class coastal patrol vessels carry a Kelvin Hughes 500A surface search and Mk.IV navigation radar.

United Kingdom: Iron Lady

The Royal Navy’s Type-23 ‘Duke’ class frigate HMS Iron Duke has returned to service following an upgrade which has refitted her with BAE Systems’ new Type-997 ARTISAN (Advanced Radar Target Indication Situational Awareness and Navigation) air and sea surveillance radar.

Type-997 Artisan radar fitted to a mock-up of the Royal Navy's 'Queen Elizabeth' class aircraft carrier island superstructure. (BAE Systems)
Type-997 Artisan radar fitted to a mock-up of the Royal Navy’s ‘Queen Elizabeth’ class aircraft carrier island superstructure. (BAE Systems)

The radar was installed onboard the vessel in May 2013. The Type-997 replaces BAE Systems’ Type-996/AWS-9 S-band surveillance radar which equips all 13 Type-23 vessels in service with the Royal Navy, and the three frigates equipping the Armada de Chile (Chilean Navy).

Other radars installed onboard the Type-23 ships include a Kelvin Hughes Type-1007 navigation radar, and two BAE Systems Type-911 fire control radars for the ship’s MBDA Seawolf surface-to-air missiles.

The Type-997 is a three-dimensional, medium-range radar which makes significant use of Commercial-Off-The-Shelf components. Its design is optimised for the detection of small surface and airborne targets, particularly in high clutter conditions. Alongside its surveillance role, the radar can be used for navigation and to provide Air Traffic Management (ATM).

In terms of performance, the radar rotates at a rate of 30 revolutions-per-minute. It has a horizontal beamwidth of 2.5º, and low sidelobes; built-in sidelobe blanking and frequency agility enhance the radar’s resistance to detection. The Type-997‘s maximum instrumented range is in the order of 200 kilometres (108 nautical miles) with the detection of an aircraft-sized target at 185km (100nm) and a missile at 27nm (50km). It provides 70º elevation coverage and the tracking of over 800 targets.

The Type-997 was selected by the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (MoD) in August 2008 to be rolled out onboard all Type-23 frigates, plus the Royal Navy’s two forthcoming ‘Queen Elizabeth’ class aircraft carriers, and the HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark ‘Albion’ class landing platform dock ships.

Onboard the ‘Queen Elizabeth’ class, the Type-997 radar will be used to perform ATM. The installation of the new  radar onboard the ‘Albion’ class will replace the Type-996 radars which are used by these ships, alongside two Kelvin Hughes Type-1007/8 radars employed for navigation and ATM.

The Type-997 radars will have completed their installation onboard the ‘Albion’ class by 2015.

Germany – SMART Particulars

European defence electronics specialists Cassidian have provided more details regarding the company’s SMART (Scalable Modular Aerospace Radar Technology) airborne ground surveillance radar technology demonstration project.

As reported in last month’s ChainHomeHigh (see ‘Smart Decision’, CHH, May 2013), Cassidian recently  announced its development of the prototype SMART radar which it says can outfit both Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and inhabited platforms. The radar performed flight testing at Goose Bay, Canada in June 2012.

Cassidian has told ChainHomeHigh that development of the radar has been funded by Germany’s BAAINBw (Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr/Federal Office of. Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In- Service Support). Although not confirmed by the company, it is believed that the organisation contributed a total of €6.6 million ($8.6 million) of funding to the initiative.

Cassidian revealed that during the flight tests last year, the prototype SMART radar was flown onboard a Bombardier Learjet business aircraft. SMART has been developed to evaluate radar capabilities and technologies in response to Germany’s AF-SAATEG (System für die abbildende Aufklärung in der Tiefe des Einsatzgebiets/MALE-UAV Multi-Function Radar System) requirement. Although exact performance information pertaining to this radar remains classified, the company says that it gathers ultra-high resolution imagery at long ranges.

In terms of the programme’s next steps, Cassidian hope to develop a broadband 360º-scanning belly-mounted version of SMART. Nevertheless, the firm is keen to emphasis that, at present, the SMART radar remains a technology demonstration initiative and does not represent a production system, although some of the components and technologies developed for SMART could migrate to any production radar which Cassidian may choose to develop in response to the formal AF-SAATEG requirement. Cassidian emphasises that; “a deployable product always has to take into account specific customer requirements and platform integration specifics and therefore needs some adaptation.”

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