Note: This article discuss all the capabilities & modes of Lockheed Martin’s AN/TPS-77 MRR.
There is old adage in US military that eating carrots can improve one’s eyesight but the truth behind this 75-year-old axiom is actually quite clever. Its origin started from within the United Kingdom during the Battle of Britain in WW2, the Royal Air Force fighter command was successfully using an invention called radio detection and ranging commonly known as Radar. The English built a ring of coastal Early Warning radar stations known as chain home, these radar stations enabled the Royal Air Force to know the altitude and direction of incoming German bombers which gave the pilots a great advantage in defending the skies above England. Then in the later stages of the war when Berlin was being bombed by the allies the Germans had the answer in the form of Freya, though better & more advanced then what the English had to offer but due to its complex design, only eight Freya radar stations were operational, resulting in large gaps between the covered areas. The British Chain Home radar, although less advanced and more prone to errors, was simpler, which meant that the complete Chain Home network was in place in time for the Battle of Britain. This is the importance of radar coverage in aerial warfare.
The system we are about to discuss in the next paragraphs is a jewel in the Lockheed Martin’s lineup of Tactical Pulse System. We are talking about AN/TPS-77 MRR which is an acronym for Army Navy Tactical Pulse System Multi Role Radar. Lockheed Martin made the AN/TPS-77 MRR, long range air surveillance radar, the latest offering in the company’s proven line of solid-state radars. The TPS-77 MRR leverages 15 years of Lockheed Martin’s investment in the continuous improvement of radar technology and combines it with the company’s experience in designing highly mobile & transportable radars for customers worldwide.
The MRR gets its name from the fact that unlike other radars which only give either high level (-100kft) or low-level surveillance(<15kft) and ground controlled interception (GCI) coverage, it is configurable for all ranges i.e. low, medium and long range detection. The TPS-77 MRR is the most mobile variant of the Lockheed Martin radar family offering easy access to remote areas. The whole system consisting of only two Scania 6×6 Trucks gives ease of setup as you just have to erect up the Antenna, switch it ON and the sensor is available for quick data telling to the MCCs. MRR gives early detection of enemy airborne threats which ultimately results in quick response from interceptors. Moreover, TPS MRR also features low level contour detection and is also having alternate solutions i.e. can also be dismounted for use at fixed sites making it a very mobile and flexible system.
The TPS-77 Multi-Role Radar (MRR) is designed for ultra-low power consumption and is designed specifically for high performance in a tactically mobile environment and can give operations in plain regions, hilly terrains, and in coastal areas. The TPS-77 MRR is a solid state, active phased array, 3D radar. The radar operates on L-band and its long range provides continuous airspace surveillance on targets up to 250 NM. Radar is suitable for multiple long and short-range missions. It includes a broad range of system options, offering superior detection performance and clutter rejection as well as very advanced ECCM features including decoys to have protection from ARMs (Anti-Radiation Missiles). The design also incorporates GaN (Gallium Nitride) technology and LPI (low probability of intercept) features which prevents the RWR (radar warning receiver) of enemy fighters from getting triggered.
The sensor operates on 5, 10 and 15 RPMs giving a very fast update rate and has the target capacity of up to 1500 plots. The antenna array supports mechanical beam steering in azimuth and electronic beam steering in elevation. The system incorporates LRUs (Line replaceable units) giving remarkable levels of redundancy. The Strengths of the systems include
- Multi Role: The TPS-77 MRR is equipped with the latest technology that is quickly adaptable to a variety of surveillance missions. The radar’s multi-role single scan technology allows operators in specific sectors to select roles for the radar such as long range or medium range low-level flight surveillance, including helicopter detection.
- Ultra-low power consumption: The design incorporates Gallium Nitride (GaN) technology. GaN provides for ultra-low power consumption and high reliability that ensures radar operation over extended time periods.
- Highly Mobile: The radar can be truck mounted for rapid deployment at unprepared sites and can also be dismounted for use at fixed sites. This gives the user more options and mobility on the ever-changing battlefield.
- Good Ep Features: TPS-MRR has very good Ep features like beam to beam frequency agility & highly coded pulses amongst others, With the inclusion of Erds the system is very less immune to arm threats.
Summing up the article, we conclude that a Multirole tactical radar like TPS-77 MRR is one solution to overcome the limitations of existing air defense system vis-à-vis height finding capability and redundancy of tactical radars. With the induction of this modern tactical radar in any Air Force’s air defense set up the operations capability of that Air Force will be much better as compared to present set up in any future conflict.