United States-based radar supplier Exelis is looking forward to a busy year regarding the company’s GCA/PAR-2020 airport surveillance and precision approach radar family with deliveries underway, and future opportunities around the world.
The company’s GCA/PAR-2020 radar family includes an array of distinct products. The GCA-2020 series includes an Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR) that can cover ranges of 30 nautical miles (56 kilometres) and altitudes of greater than 8,000 feet (2,438 metres), an L-band (1.215-1.4 gigahertz) Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR) to receive information from aircraft transponders, and the Precision Approach Radar (PAR) that can cover ranges of 20nm (37km) with eight degrees’ elevation and 30 degrees azimuth coverage. The PAR utilizes a fully Electronically Scanning Antenna (ESA) in both azimuth and elevation significantly improving system reliability, while decreasing maintenance cost and operator workload. Both radars operate in the X-band (8.5-10.68 gigahertz).
Exelis provides these radars in fixed, mobile and transportable configurations. The baseline models of the radar family are the GCA-2000, which includes an ASR, SSR and PAR. The stand-alone PAR-2000, which provides precision approach radar services, includes an optional radar-assisted ILS (Instrument Landing System – RAILS) capability. RAILS is a unique capability allowing ILS-equipped aircraft to make precision landings without the need for traditional ILS infrastructure. The GCA-2020 and PAR-2020 are updated versions of the baseline radar which add a Mode-5/Mode-S monopulse SSR to the architecture. Mode-5/Mode-S is the latest-generation military and civilian air traffic control transponder protocol which assigns a permanent International Civil Aviation Organisation 24-bit address to each aircraft and is being rolled out across the United States as part of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) civilian air traffic management initiative. Mode-S is also being rolled out across Europe as part of Eurocontrol’s CASCADE programme. Mode-5 is the cryptographically secure version of Mode-S which enables the aircraft to also transmit its location via use of the Global Positioning System satellite constellation.
The last twelve months have been very busy for Exelis regarding its GCA/PAR-2020 family. In October 2013, Sweden ordered its second GCA-2020 deployable radar to support out-of-area operations by the Swedish armed forces such as humanitarian relief where the deployment of airfield infrastructure, such as ASR and PAR equipment maybe necessary. The company delivered its first GCA-2020 to Sweden in the 2007/8 timeframe. The country has been an enthusiastic user of this radar family and already has PAR-2000 series radars, known locally as the PAR-08, at five sites around Sweden. There is the possibility of a third GCA-2020 unit being ordered by Sweden in the near future, according to Dennis Miller, director of air traffic management, at the company.
More recently, in January 2014, Poland announced that it has purchased nine GCA-2020 systems via a Foreign Military Sale with the United States for $76mn (€56mn). Likewise, Estonia revealed in November 2013 that it would purchase a single GCA-2020 for $8mn (€5.9mn). Looking towards the future, Mr. Miller expects to receive an order from Saudi Arabia in the second quarter of this year with plans for up to three additional systems, with a country in Southern Africa also mooted as a possible customer in the 2015 timeframe.
Closer to home, Mr. Miller adds that there is the possibility of a major acquisition from the United States Department of Defense (DoD) to procure AN/FPN-68 (PAR-2020) radars to equip airbases operated by the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, as a replacement for the existing AN/FPN-63 Precision Approach Radar in use at several of these facilities. Finances permitting, the company hopes for the DoD to release a Request for Proposals regarding the replacement of these radars at some point this year. Exelis has deployed and installed more than 70 GCA/PAR systems worldwide in countries such as Singapore, Spain, Brazil and the United Kingdom.