UAE Upgrading Its Air Defenses With GM200 Radars
In July 2013, reports announced that the United Arab Emirates had just bought 17 mobile Ground Master 200 medium range radars. The GM200 is a useful air defense radar, but all radars of this type are most useful as part of a larger network. Fortunately, the UAE has been making steady investments in that kind of network, and so the new radars will be plugging into an existing framework, rather than acting as a core to build around.
GM200: Capabilities and Fit
The Ground Master 200 radar is carried as a single integrated package on 1 6×6 truck, and all of the equipment is housed inside a 20′ ISO container. The 3D radar scan offers 70 degree elevation and can extend up to 80,000 feet, using a digital stacked beam. Rotation gives it 360 degree coverage, and engagement mode doubles its rotation speed to 40 rpm, while shrinking effective range from 250 km to 100 km.
The radar is touted as being able to handle C-RAM mortar/rocket tracking tasks, including point of launch and point of impact calculations, while also performing standard air defense functions against targets that include high-diving cruise missiles. This versatility, and the system’s mobility by truck and in C-130 aircraft, make it very useful for covering bases and forward operating areas.
The GM200 isn’t useful for ballistic missile defense, but its 250 km/ 155 mile scan range, and 100 km/ 60 mile engagement range, will make it very useful as the backbone of the UAE’s active air defense network. The UAE currently operates 5 batteries of MIM-23 Improved Hawk Phase III medium range air defense missiles, and orders for PATRIOT PAC-3/Config-3 batteries are underway. GM200 radars could be integrated with PATRIOT radars to form an effective aerial surveillance network, especially with the UAE’s S340 AEW&C aircraft available as a mobile overhead layer.
If the radar buy is a sign that the UAE is prepared to to modernize that tier next, it’s worth noting that in September 2008, the US DSCA forwarded a UAE export request [PDF] to that end. It covered several hundred Surface-Launched AMRAAM missiles, and 78 mobile AVENGER fire units that use a combination of short-range FIM-92 Stinger missiles and guns. The NASAMS core system would be bought from Kongsberg in Norway, and it has already demonstrated the ability to plug a number of different missiles and radar systems into its architecture.
Contracts & Key Events
July 24/13: France’s Ministere de la Defense reportedly confirms a EUR 300 million sale of 17 Ground Master 200 radars to the UAE. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, reportedly approved the deal.
The agreement comes hard on the heels of a EUR 700 million deal for 2 Helios surveillance satellites, as France works to firm up its ties with the Emirates. A much larger deal for Rafale fighters to replace the UAE’s Mirage 2000-9s is still in limbo. iOL | Middle East Online.
17 GM200 radars
Additional Readings & Sources
- ThalesRaytheon Systems – Ground Master 200
- DID – UAE Looking to Become a Regional C2 Leader
- DID – Gulf States Requesting ABM-Capable Systems. That’s a higher tier than the GM200s, and the UAE’s buys include PATIOT-3 and THAAD missile systems.
- DID (March 16/11) – UAE Buys Saab’s Erieye AEW&C Aircraft