Testing of the Q-53
Counterfire Target Acquisition Radar System in June 2015 has shown the radar is having difficulty
detecting volley-fired mortars. While the second initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) found the system effective against single-fired rockets, artillery, and mortar munitions, it was unable to handle the detection of more than one munition fired at the same time, according to Michael Gilmore's annual Operational Test & Evaluation report. The radar also struggled to identify the difference between a mortar, a rocket, and artillery. The Army, however, has stated that the radars have been working well in operational environments, and plans are to increase performance in high clutter environments with development and integration of software upgrades in 2019, with more testing planned for 240 mm and 122 mm munitions not assessed in previous tests.
Firefinder radars track the path of incoming shells, rockets, mortars, etc., and calculate the point they were fired from. Raytheon’s TPQ-36 radar is specifically designed to counter medium range enemy weapon systems out to a range of 24 kilometers, while the TPQ-37 can locate longer-range systems, and even surface launched missiles, out to 50 kilometers. Michael Yon, embedded with 1-24 (“Deuce Four”) in Mosul, offered a first hand description of counter-battery radars’ effect on enemy tactics in 2005.
Better radar technologies offer a number of potential advantages for this role, including wider fields of view and less maintenance. Not to mention fewer disruptive, time-sucking false positives for deployed troops. In September 2006, Lockheed Martin began a contract to deliver their “Enhanced AN/TPQ-36” (EQ-36) radars. Despite the close official name and designation, this was a wholly new radar system, from a different company. Orders have begun to accumulate, along with deployments – and, finally, a less confusing designation change to AN/TPQ-53.
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