UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


AN/TPQ-53 Counter Target Acquisition

The AN/TPQ-53 is highly mobile counterfire target acquisition radar, capable of locating hostile mortar, artillery, and rocket fires in a clutter environment, and of providing friendly artillery registration. The system provides surveillance against all counterfire threats at increased ranges and accuracies, to include 360 degrees of coverage and 90 degree sector coverage. The principle functions of the system are to detect, track, classify, and accurately determine the point of origin and the point of impact of enemy indirect fires. The design enables reduced manning and improved maintainability versus legacy counter fire sensors.

The AN/TPQ-53 is a C-130 transportable, truck-mounted Counter Target Acquisition radar system configured to provide 360-degree threat detection capability, Thomas and McDonald explained. The AN/TPQ-53 Program of Record, which achieved a formal milestone C production decision in February 2012, was informed by earlier or legacy versions of a similar technology called the AN/TPQ-36 and AN/TPQ/37 radar systems.

The Army improved the software and improved the overall hardware of the system, incorporating lessons learned from the earlier systems. It has more robust gears, a rotating platform, an automated leveling system and an improved air cooled system. In fact, some of these technical improvements to the AN/TPQ-53 substantially reduce the logistical footprint of the system, lowering the life-cycle costs by millions of dollars and making it easier to operate and transport quickly on a C-130 aircraft, Thomas added.

Previous versions of the capability, such as the AN/TPQ-36, required three trailers, three vehicles and a six-man crew; the AN/TPQ-53 requires a four or five-man crew and includes a 60-kilowatt transportable generator and one support shelter vehicle.

This system is easier to emplace, especially in a high-optempo environment. It is all automated, so it reduces wear and tear on the crew and system. Also, the AN/TPQ-53 enhances force protection. It uses an encrypted wireless network able to reach up to 1,000 meters away, to a tactical operations center, or TOC, or nearby shelter.

While the AN/TPQ-53 is configured to perform CTA radar missions locating the origin and impact of incoming fire, the hardware and software are engineered such that they could accommodate technical advances in capability as technology matures. For instance, it is possible that the AN/TPQ-53 could, through software upgrades, incorporate the ability to detect larger threats such as UAS, Cruise missiles and rotary or fixed-wing aircraft.

The solid-state phased array radar system detects, classifies, tracks and determines the location of enemy indirect fire in either 360- or 90-degree modes. The Lockheed Martin AN/TPQ-53 counterfire radar demonstrated its ability to identify and track unmanned aerial systems and pass that information to a command and control node, a key capability as the battlespace rapidly becomes more crowded with emerging air threats. The demonstration showed that the Q-53 radar can provide soldiers in combat real time awareness of air threats, said Rick Herodes, Q-53 program director, Lockheed Martin. The inherent flexibility of the Q-53s active electronically scanned array (AESA) hardware architecture allows us to constantly evolve the Q-53s software to deal with emerging threats. This demonstration provided further verification that the Q-53 enables the warfighter to stay ahead of changing global threats.

The demonstration was part of the US Armys Maneuver and Fires Integration Experiment (MFIX) at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The annual MFIX exercise brings together military, industry and academia to assess solutions to future warfighting needs in a live environment. In the demonstration, the Q-53 radar showed it can be readily adapted to provide both air surveillance and counter fire target acquisition in one tactical sensor. The radar identified and tracked several unmanned aerial systems and provided data to Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control. Simultaneously, the Q-53 radar performed its original mission by providing accurate targeting data on rockets, artillery and mortars, providing a multimission radar (MMR) capability.

Lockheed Martin is manufacturing multiple Q-53 radars per month. Since Lockheed Martin won the development contract for the Q-53 radar in 2007, the company has won five additional contracts for a total of more than 100 radars and delivered more than 60 systems to the U.S. Army. The Army was expected to award a full-rate production contract in 2016 bringing the system total to more than 170. Work on the Q-53 radars is performed at Lockheed Martin facilities in Syracuse and Owego, New York, Moorestown, New Jersey, and Clearwater, Florida.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list