United States Of America – PARC Life

BAE Systems has been awarded a contract extension worth €5.4 million ($7 million) to provide technical services to support the AN/FPQ-16 Perimeter Acquisition Radar Attack Characterisation System (PARCS) solid state phased array radar located at Cavalier Air Force Station, North Dakota.

This radar is operated by the 10th Space Warning Squadron of the United States Air Force Space Command’s 21st Space Wing. It is tasked with providing space surveillance and missile warning to the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) and United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM).

The radar provides coverage of the north-eastern approaches to North America over the Hudson Bay.

As reported in the February edition of ChainHomeHigh, the USAF has embarked on a modernisation programme for its AN/FPQ-16 and its AN/FPS-115/-120/-126 PAVE PAWS space and missile surveillance radars.

AN/FPQ-16
The AN/FPQ-16 radar located in North Dakota provides space surveillance and missile warning coverage over north eastern North America (Wikimedia Commons)

France: The View From The Mountain

Franco-American radar specialists ThalesRaytheonSystems (TRS) have provided some additional news regarding its contract to supply the Armée de l’Air (AdlA/French Air Force) with a new GM-406 ground-based air surveillance radar.

It was announced in late October that the company would supply a single radar to equip the AdlA air surveillance facility located at Nice-Mont Agel airbase in southeast France. This facility provides air surveillance of the southern approaches to the country. Presently, it is occupied by two legacy systems, namely two Thompson L-band PALMIER radars (one three-dimensional and one two-dimensional) which will be replaced by the new GM-406 radar.

The GM-406, alongside the GM-403, is part of TRS’s circa 470 kilometre (253 nautical mile) range S-band GM-400 air surveillance radar family manufactured by Thales in France. The principle difference between the two types according to Philippe Duhamel, Chief Executive Officer of TRS-SAS, the French segment of TRS, is that the GM-406 is primarily designed to equip fixed sites, with the GM-403 designed to be deployable. The GM-406 also has a transmitter which is twice as powerful as the GM-403, giving it a 20 percent greater range.

TRS plans to complete the installation of the GM-406 radar at the site in Nice by 2015. It will become operational during the same year. This new radar will represent the third GM-400 system that the company has delivered to the AdlA. It has already delivered a GM-406 to French Guiana, where the system will provide air surveillance to protect the Guiana Space Centre. In addition, Mr. Duhamel says that the company plans to deliver a GM-403 radar to the AdlA by 2014.

Once deployed, the GM-406 in Nice will be linked to the overall AdlA SCCOA (Système de Commandement et de Conduite des Opérations Aériennes/Air Operations Command and Control System) which is being rolled out across the French air force.

Israel – Another Iron Dome Radar For Israel?

A sixth IAI Elta Systems EL/M-2084 radar may be deployed by Israel as the country contemplates deploying a sixth Rafael Advanced Defence System Iron Dome surface-to-air missile battery to help protect the country against rocket attacks by Hamas insurgents in the Gaza Strip.

The Jerusalem Post reported on 18th November that Israel’s air force is ready to deploy a sixth Iron Dome battery to enhance protection against the attacks.

The EL/M-2084 radar is an S-band system optimised to detect incoming rocket and artillery rounds in environments with significant ground clutter and electromagnetic noise. It forms an integral part of the overall Iron Dome architecture.  The radar has a detection range of up to 474 kilometres (256 nautical miles) and can detect weapons launching points at a 100km (54nm) range. When the antenna is fixed, the EL/M-2084 provides up to 120 degrees of azimuth search, although this increases to 360 degrees when the antenna is rotating. Meanwhile, up to 100,000 feet (30,480 metres) of elevation coverage is provided. When performing air surveillance, the EL/M-2084 can track up to 1,200 targets, with up to 200 targets-per-minute being detected when the radar operates in a weapons-location mode.

Although the Iron Dome system is being used to protect Israeli territory during the country’s ongoing Operation Pillar of Cloud military campaign against Hamas insurgents, the EL/M-2084 is probably performing a secondary role of identifying the position of Hamas rocket launchers for engagement by Israeli air force aircraft.

United States: Space Fence Moves Forward

Lockheed Martin announced on 13th November that the company has submitted its bid to construct the United States Air Force’s Space Fence space debris tracking system. Space Fence replaces the existing Air Force Space Surveillance System.

Lockheed Martin will compete with Raytheon to build Space Fence. A selection of the successful bidder by the USAF is expected to occur before the end of the year.

Space Fence will use S-band radars to track up to 200,000 targets, including those as small as a tennis ball in size, at a range of up to 1,930 kilometres (1,042 nautical miles).

The value forthcoming contract is estimated at €2.7 billion ($3.5 billion), and the system is expected to be declared operational in circa 2017.

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