Lockheed Martin is being tapped to introduce a full rate production configuration to the new AN/TPQ-53 (Q-53) radar. The US Army is awarding Lockheed with a contract modification
that sees for the insertion of Gallium Nitride into the Q-53. The Q-53
is a mobile, maneuverable, fully supportable and easily maintained counterfire target acquisition radar. Compared to currently deployed systems, the new, battle-tested Q-53 offers enhanced performance, including greater mobility, increased reliability and supportability, a lower life-cycle cost, reduced crew size, and the ability to track targets in a full-spectrum environment, a vital capability on today’s battlefield. According to the press release, the transition to GaN
will provide the Q-53 with additional power for capabilities including long-range counterfire target acquisition. GaN has the added benefit of increasing system reliability and reducing lifecycle ownership costs. Work will be performed at Lockheed's factories in New York, New Jersey and Florida.
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.