Iraq Acquiring Artillery-Finder Radars
Artillery-locating radars like the AN/TPQ-36 and TPQ-37 Firefinder radars, and the lighter LCMR, automatically detect, track and locate enemy mortars, artillery and rocket launchers. Once incoming rounds are picked up, the radar system backtracks the projectile’s flight, in order to pinpoint the launcher before the incoming round has even landed. Meanwhile, back-end systems can trigger alarms, giving people in the target area the critical seconds they need to get under cover. The TPQ-36 radar is specifically designed to counter medium range enemy weapon systems out to a range of 24 km/ 15 miles, while the TPQ-37 can locate longer-range systems and even surface launched missiles out to 50 km/ 31 miles.
Mortars and rockets have been common threats in Iraq, and advanced counter-battery radars have been the first line of defense for military bases and key civilian sectors. The systems do suffer from “false positives,” but on the whole, they’re very valuable. Michael Yon, embedded with 1-24 (“Deuce Four”) in Mosul in 2005, offered a first hand description of counter-battery radars’ effect on enemy tactics. With American forces drawing down and leaving, it’s no surprise that Iraq wants some.
Contracts & Key Events
March 30/11: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] Iraq’s official request to buy 6 AN/TPQ-36v10 Firefinder Radar Systems, 18 AN/TPQ-48 Light Weight Counter-Mortar Radars, 3 Meteorological Measuring Sets, 36 export variant SINGCARS frequency-hopping radios, 6 Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data Systems, 3 Position and Azimuth Determining Systems, plus associated equipment, common hardware and software, communication support equipment, tools and test equipment, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment, and other forms of US government and contractor support. As the DSCA release puts it:
“The [Firefinder and LCMR] systems will enable Iraq to assume some of the missions currently accomplished by U.S. and coalition forces and to sustain itself in its efforts to establish stability to Iraq.”
The estimated cost is up to $299 million, but that will depend on the terms of the eventual contract, if the sale is not blocked. The prime contractors will be Thales Raytheon Systems in Fullerton, CA (TPQ-36 Firefinder), Northrop Grumman in Los Angeles, CA (back-end C2 systems); Smith-Detection Technologies in Edgewood, MD; ITT Corporation, Defense Electronics Services in McLean, VA; Raytheon Company in Waltham, MA; L-3 Communications in New York, NY; and SRCTec, Inc. in North Syracuse, NY (LCMR). Implementation of this proposed sale will require U.S. Government or contractor representatives to travel to Iraq for up to 3 years for equipment de-processing/fielding, system checkout, new equipment training, and logistics support.
Jan 8/11: A Pentagon DVIDS video highlights US Army Bravo Battery 2/5 Field Artillery’s efforts to put Iraqi soldiers through a 5-week course that covers all aspects of operating and maintaining AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder radars. USF – Iraq | Pentagon DVIDS | ISF Order of Battle, Feb. 2011.
- SRCTec – Lightweight Counter-Mortar Radar (LCMR).
- ThalesRaytheon – AN/TPQ-36. The Firefinder.
- DID – US Army Adding EQ-36 Radars, ASAP. The EQ-36 is a Lockheed Martin product. It will supplement, and may eventually replace, Raytheon’s Firefinders in the US military.
- US Army Fires Bulletin (April 5/10) – LCMR: Not just an additional duty [PDF]. See also accessible Facebook version. It’s not as easy as just buying the gear. It never is.