The US Air Force’s AN/TPS-75 radar has been in service since 1968. Threats have evolved, and they want to replace it as their main long-range, ground-based radar for detecting, identifying and tracking aircraft and missiles, then reporting them through the Ground Theater Air Control System. The US Marines are considering a similar move, to replace their own AN/TPS-59s. Hence the USA’s Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR, pron. “Three Dealer”).
3DELRR is intended to provide up to 35 radars for long-range surveillance, air traffic control, and theater ballistic missile detection. It will correct AN/TPS-75 shortfalls by being easier to maintain, thanks to AESA technology, and by detecting and reporting highly maneuverable and/or stealthy targets. Its improved resolution may even allow it to classify and determine the type of non-cooperative aircraft that cannot or do not identify themselves – a trait that allows faster engagement of hostile planes, and reduces the odds of friendly fire incidents. As long as the program itself can avoid friendly fire from the USA’s budget wars.