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 States Of America: AN/SPS-48G(V) Update

An AN/SPS-48E radar undergoing maintenance (US Navy)
An AN/SPS-48E radar undergoing maintenance (US Navy)

ITT Exelis has been awarded a contract modification worth $20.2 million covering AN/SPS-48G(V)9 radar upgrade kits.

The S-band AN/SPS-48G is an upgraded version of the AN/SPS-48E three-dimensional naval surveillance radar, itself a member of the AN/SPS-48 family of systems which has been in US Navy service in one guise or another since the 1960s.

The AN/SPS-48E is currently being modernised under the Radar Obsolescence Availability Programme (ROAR) which is seeing 29 AN/SPS-48E radars being enhanced under an original contract worth €130.6 million ($169.3 million). This will install open architecture electronics in back end of the radar.

AN/SPS-48 radar family members reportedly have a range of circa 460 kilometres (250 nautical miles), a ceiling of 100,000 feet (30,000 metres), and scan 360° in azimuth and 65° in elevation. The radar is used on board the US Navy’s ‘Nimitz’ class aircraft carriers, plus its ‘Wasp’, ‘Tarawa’ and ‘San Antonio’ class amphibious assault ships. 

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.

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