G/ATOR radar to provide U.S. Marine Corps with enhanced expeditionary capabilities
Out with the old, in with the new, as writes Lance Cpl. Julian Elliott-Drouin, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. The U.S. Marine Corps presents a single source solution to its multi-role radar system and ground weapons locating radar requirements with the AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar produced by Northrop Grumman. The G/ATOR will provide enhanced expeditionary capabilities and will replace legacy radar system, the AN/TPS-59, after Sept. 30, 2020.
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An AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar starts up at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., Feb. 26, 2020. The AN/TPS-80 will replace the AN/TPS-63 andreduces set up time from eight hours to 30 minutes for the system. Marine Air Control Squadron 2 recieved the first G/ATOR issued to the Fleet Marine Force following testing to improve the squadron's readiness and expeditionary capabilities (Picture source: U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Ethan Pumphret)
“The AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR will fill the void that the 59 will leave and enable Marine Air Control Squadron’s across the Marine Corps to accomplish their mission of command and control,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jeffery Tracy, a radar chief with Marine Air Control Squadron (MACS) 1.
The AN/TPS-59 radar system was fielded in 1985 and upgraded to (V)3 in 1998, by adding the TBM (Tactical Ballistic Missile) capability. “The AN/TPS-59(V)3 was used during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, providing both the MAGTF commander and the joint commander with a complete air picture to include fixed and rotary wing aircraft as well as theater ballistic missiles,” said Tracy. The AN/TPS-59 has been used in various joint training operations throughout the pacific to include Australia, Thailand, South Korea, Tinian, Guam and the Philippines. With the Marine Corps upgrading its radar systems, the final decision was made in late 2019 to retire the AN/TPS-59 for the AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR.
The AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR’s primary function is air surveillance. It will allow Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) commanders enhanced capabilities to detect and track adversary aircraft, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, rockets, mortars, artillery, and air traffic control functions.
“The AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR will provide us with a much more expeditionary asset, bringing setup and teardown to less than 30 minutes,” said Tracy. “The setup requires a crew of four Marines to accomplish while the AN/TPS-59 would require a crew of approximately 10 and range from four to eight hours for full setup and operation.”
Marines with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing will have a highly mobile, multipurpose tool that will help commanders track threats in the air and on the ground and will enhance the Marine Corps’ effectiveness and lethality on the battlefield. 3rd MAW continues to “Fix, Fly and Fight” as the Marine Corps’ largest aircraft wing, and remains combat-ready, deployable on short notice, and lethal when called into action.
The Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) is a single materiel solution for the mobile Multi-Role Radar System and Ground Weapons Locating Radar (GWLR) requirements. It is a three-dimensional, short/medium range multi-role radar designed to detect unmanned aerial systems, cruise missiles, air breathing targets, rockets, artillery, and mortars. G/ATOR satisfies the warfighter's expeditionary needs across the Marine Air-Ground Task Force spectrum replacing five legacy radar systems with a single solution. The five Marine Corps legacy radar systems being replaced by this multi-function capability include: the AN/TPS-63 (air defense), AN/TPS-73 (air-traffic control), AN/MPQ-62 (short range air defense), AN/TPQ-46 (counter-fire target acquisition) and UPS-3 (target tracking).[Additionally, it will augment the AN/TPS-59 long-range radar.
The Program Executive Office (PEO), Land Systems Marine Corps is executing the G/ATOR program as an evolutionary acquisition program consisting of four capabilities, referred to as blocks.
• Block 1 will complete the primary material system acquisition and can support the short-range air defense and air surveillance mission, as well as provide an Air Defense/Surveillance Radar (AD/SR) capability to the MAGTF Commander.
• Block 2 will include software to perform the missions of ground counter-battery/fire control (Ground Locating Weapons Radar).
• Block 3 capabilities are not currently defined or resourced, and have been deferred indefinitely.
• Block 4 will provide air traffic control capabilities (Expeditionary Airport Surveillance Radar).
G/ATOR provides real-time radar measurement data to the Tactical Air Operations Module, Common Aviation Command and Control System (CAC2S), Composite Tracking Network, and Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System.
The G/ATOR baseline system configuration consists of three subsystems:
*Communications Equipment Group (CEG). The CEG provides the ability to communicate with and control the radar and is mounted on a High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle.
* Radar Equipment Group (REG). The REG consists of the phased-array radar mounted on an integrated trailer. The trailer is towed by the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR).
* Power Equipment Group (PEG). The PEG includes a 60-kilowatt generator and associated power cables mounted on a pallet. The generator pallet is carried by the MTVR.
AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (Picture source: Northtop Grumman)