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.