Exelis’ GCA/PAR-2020 Excels

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.

GCA-2020 (Exelis)

GCA-2020 (Exelis)

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.

Posted in Air Traffic Control/Management News, Ground-Based Radar | Leave a comment

Spexer Specifics

Airbus Defence and Space (formerly Cassidian) has disclosed more details regarding its latest edition to its SPEXER ground surveillance radar product line, including the new SPEXER-500’s systems architecture.

The company launched its new SPEXER-500 radar in November 2013. It is designed to perform security tasks, notably perimeter and installation protection. This X-band (8.2-12.4 Gigahertz) radar has a light weight of 34 kilograms (75 lb) making it highly portable. In terms of detection ranges, the radar provides an instrumented range of nine kilometres (six miles) and can see a pedestrian at a distance of five kilometres (three miles), a small vehicle at seven kilometres (four miles) and a large truck at nine kilometres (six miles). The SPEXER-500 can also detect air targets at a range of over four nautical miles (eight kilometres) for a light aircraft, five nautical miles (nine kilometres) for a helicopter and over one nautical mile (three kilometres) for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The radar updates its imagery every 1.5 seconds when scanning a sector 120° in azimuth, whereas its scans a 30° sector in less than 0.4 seconds. The SPEXER-500 can track over 50 targets simultaneously.

In terms of architecture, the radar uses Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) technology. According to an Airbus Defence and Space spokesperson, this design feature facilitates: “Digital Beam Forming” (DBF) – a form of electronic scanning – that enables the SPEXER-500 to have a high Doppler resolution ensuring the reliable detection of very small and slowly moving targets such as people and UAVs, even in the presence of strong clutter.” In terms of design, the spokesperson adds that: “The radars have a very high availability and are robust in operation, certified to several international military standards. In addition, the false alarm rates are very low, even in harsh environmental conditions and in the presence of clutter.”

The SPEXER-500 is the “small brother” of the SPEXER-1000 radar which provides detection ranges of up to 36km (22 miles) also using Digital Beam Forming based on FMCW technology. For the surveillance of larger distances and coastlines, Airbus Defence and Space provides pulse Doppler radars such as the SPEXER-1500, SPEXER-2000 Coastal and SPEXER-2000 all of which use Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology.

Posted in European Air Defence News, Ground-Based Radar | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in European News, Ground-Based Radar, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

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South Korea – New Radars On Horizon

LIG Nex-1's Long Range Air Defence Surveillance Radar (ChainHomeHigh)

LIG Nex-1’s Long Range Air Defence Surveillance Radar (ChainHomeHigh)

South Korea will commence the induction of its new LIG Nex-1 Long Range Air Defence Surveillance Radar (LRADSR) into air force service from 2015, according to company sources speaking to ChainHomeHigh at the Seoul Aerospace and Defence Exhibition held in the South Korean capital between 29th October and 3rd November.

The LRADSR is an L-band (1.215-1.4 gigahertz) system which has a range of circa 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) and a ceiling of 100,000 feet (30,480 metres). This three-dimensional radar uses an Active Electronically Scanned Array antenna. The LRADSR is being procured to eventually replace the Lockheed Martin AN/FPS-117 L-band air surveillance radars which the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) currently uses. In terms of performance, the LRADSR has similar capabilities to the AN/FPS-117.

LIG Nex-1's Medium Range Air Defence Surveillance Radar (ChainHomeHigh)

LIG Nex-1’s Medium Range Air Defence Surveillance Radar (ChainHomeHigh)

Over the longer term, the ROKAF plans to induct LIGNex-1’s Medium Range Air Defence Surveillance Radar (MRADSR) into service which will have a shorter range of around 76nm (140km), and a 40,000ft (12,192m) ceiling. The MRADSR is an S-band (2.3-2.5/2.7-3.7ghz) radar. There is no word on when this radar may enter service nor on how many of the MRADSR and LRADSR the ROKAF may procure. As well as manufacturing the radar, LIG Nex-1 built the Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) interrogators for both systems.

These radars will join the Israel Aerospace Industries Elta Systems two EL/M-2080 Green Pine ballistic missile defence radars which have been undergoing testing in South Korea. The EL/M-2080 has a range of circa 270nm (500km), according to open source reports.

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United States Of America – More AN/APY-10s For Poseidon

Raytheon has been tasked to build 14 AN/APY-10 airborne maritime surveillance radars for the US Navy’s new Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.

The order, worth $48.8 million (€36.1 million), will include the supply of 13 radars, and one spare, to furnish the Lot-IV P-8A production run. The Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) P-8A Lot-IV contract was awarded to Boeing on 31st July and is worth $1.9 billion (€1.4 billion). These aircraft, and their accompanying radars, are expected to enter US Navy service by late 2016.

The radar is a direct descendent of Raytheon’s AN/APS-149 Littoral Surveillance Radar which equips the Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion aircraft which the P-8A will replace.

The AN/APY-10 uses an Active Electronically Scanned Array antenna to perform gather Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and inverse SAR imagery over land and water. Moreover, it can perform periscope detection for the anti-submarine mission.

Although no information appears to be publicly available regarding the particular specifications of the AN/APY-10, it is thought to be an X-band system, based on its AN/APS-137 lineage.

Posted in Airborne Radar, North America News | Leave a comment

In September’s ChainHomeHigh: United States Of America – AN/TPS-59 Refurbishment Order

The United States Marine Corps is pressing ahead with the refurbishment of its AN/TPS-59(V)3 ground-based air surveillance radars …

Posted in Ground-Based Radar, North America News | Leave a comment