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MIM-72 / M48 Chaparral
Forward Area Air-Defense System [FAADS]

Chaparral was the Army's standard, short range, low altitude air defense system which provided point defense of vital corps areas against direct air attack. The Chaparral missile weapon system consisted of a tracked vehicle with a pedestal-type launcher mounted on the back. The launcher can hold four ready-to-fire Chaparral heat-seeking missiles. Eight additional missiles for reloading are stored on the carrier. Aircraft alert information can come from radio communication feeds from the Forward Area Alerting Radar or other sources. The Chaparral uses a forward-looking infrared device and visual sightings for target detection and acquisition. The system also contains the recognition equipment for identifying friend or foe aircraft that is available to Stinger teams.

Although the Chaparral missile system is on a tracked vehicle, it had neither the speed to keep up with heavy armor nor the armor to survive at the front. The Chaparral has a forward-looking infrared device, which gives it some capability to perform at night and in adverse weather, but it has difficulty locating targets in thermal clutter and does not have the range to defeat the current stand-off threat. Although the system can fire its four ready-to-launch missiles quickly, it takes a long time for its crew to reload the launcher. The Chaparral crew could reload the launcher quickly once but would be worn out afterwards. Each reload would take the crew increasingly more time.

Soviet fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and missiles presented a serious threat to U.S. and allied ground forces and other assets. An effective air defense needs to protect ground assets, provide for freedom of maneuver, and assist in the achievement of air superiority. Air defense is particularly critical in the forward areas where the majority of the Army’s combat troops and major combat weapon systems, such as tanks and armored fighting vehicles, are located. Further from the front, but still vulnerable to enemy air attack, are artillery sites, airfields, command and communication centers, fuel and ammunition dumps, supply centers, and ballistic missile sites.

The most serious air threat faced by Army ground forces came from low-flying, terrain-hugging, fixed-wing aircraft, such as the Soviet “Frogfoot” fighter bomber and stand-off, hovering, or hidden attack helicopters, such as the Soviet “Hind” and “Havoc” helicopters. The helicopter threat presents ground-based air defense systems with their greatest challenge.

A mobile light air defense system with a turret mounted on a tracked vehicle carrying four ready-to-fire missiles, the CHAPARRAL was a ground launched version of the air-to-air SIDEWINDER. CHAPARRAL was the Army's standard, short range, low altitude air defense system which provides point defense of vital corps areas against direct air attack. It homes in on the heat given off by the target aircraft's engine exhaust. Used against helicopters and low flying fixed-wing jets, this system was made by Loral Aerospace Corporation at a cost of $80,000 per missile and $1.5 million per fire unit.

The CHAPARRAL guided missile system, the 20-mm VULCAN gun, the Forward Area Alerting Radar, and the self-propelled HAWK missile system represented the culmination of a long and perplexing search for an effective solution to the forward area low-altitude air defense problem. From the end of World War II until the mid-1950s, the Ordnance Corps sought to meet the low-altitude threat through the modernization of existing artillery guns. During that period, a number of possible solutions to the problem were investigated, but few of them reached the hardware stage and only one -- the improved 40-mm self-propelled gun DUSTER -- was ever released to the Army supply system. Convinced that the achievement of a fully effective forward area air defense system would require a significant engineering breakthrough in fire control technology, the Chief of Ordnance set out to fulfill the requirement for an optimum weapon system through a series of evolutionary developments.

The Forward Area Alerting Radar (FAAR) was a D-band pulse doppler radar used to detect low flying aircraft and provide alerting and tentative identification to CHAPARRAL and VULCAN fire units and Manportable Air Defense (MANPAD) teams. The radar had a range of about 20 kilometers, contained the Mark XII Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) system, and transmitted digital data to the target alerting data display sets (TADDS) located with each CHAPARRAL/VULCAN battalion. The FAAR section consisted of three men and one vehicle and trailer.

The CHAPARRAL/VULCAN air defense system was produced and deployed without the Forward Area Alerting Radar System (FAARS) which, coupled with other significant performance limitations, resulted in the system!s providing limited air defense capability. When limited production of the CHAPARRAL and VULCAN systems was approved in November 1965 and March 1966, respectively, the Army had not designed or developed the military characteristics for the system's radars even though it had determined in 1965 that existing systems could not be modified to fulfill the radar's mission. Production of the radar was authorized in 1968, though earlier testing indicated that it did not meet performance repuirements. When technical difficulties arose, radar production was stopped in July 1969, This resulted in the deployment of the CHAPARRAL/VULCAN system without FAARS. The system required the operators' visual detection and identification of enemy aircraft and his judgment that they are within range. The Chaparral provides mobile short-range air defense to defeat low-altitude aircraft. The system was designed to be mobile, self-contained and air transportable. A mobile light air defense system with a turret mounted on a tracked vehicle carrying four ready-to-fire missiles, the Chaparral was a ground launched version of the air-to-air Sidewinder. Chaparral consists of an infrared heat seeking missile, a launcher with a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) sight, and a tracked vehicle. The technology for the Chaparral/FLIR was essentially the same as that developed for the TOW missile system, the M60A3 tank, and the advanced attack helicopter. The FLIR device enhances engagement capability at night and in certain visibility degrading weather conditions, such as clouds or fog. Production deliveries of FLIR components, many of which can be used in Chaparral, were scheduled to begin under the TOW and M60A3 programs in late 1979.

The missile was lightweight, supersonic, fire-and-forget, with an infrared homing guidance system capable of engaging fixed-wing and helicopter targets. To enhance missile acquisition range and capability the Rosette Scan Seeker (RSS) guidance section has been developed and was effective against infrared jammers. The missile was carried and handled as an assembled single round of ammunition. Used against helicopters and low flying fixed-wing jets, it homes in on the heat given off by the target aircraft's engine exhaust.

The Chaparral Fire Unit may be used either carrier mounted or unmounted. The launcher contains a rotating mount that includes four missile launch rails and provides the gunner the means to aim and fire using automatic or manual tracking. Eight additional missiles are stowed in the vehicle.

The system uses an M-730A2 cargo carrying, self-propelled tracked vehicle "9a" variant of the M-113 Armored Personnel Carrier, which can be made amphibious by adding an existing swim kit. A towed configuration was also available.

The associated Forward Area Alerting Radar (FAAR) was a D-band pulse doppler radar used to detect low flying aircraft and provide alerting and tentative identification to CHAPARRAL and VULCAN fire units and Manportable Air Defense (MANPAD) teams. The radar had a range of about 20 kilometers, contained the Mark XII Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) system, and transmitted digital data to the target alerting data display sets (TADDS) located with each CHAPARRAL/VULCAN battalion. The FAAR section consisted of three men and one vehicle and trailer.

The MIM-72 Chaparall had a number of issues (most of which are related to using barely modified AIM-9 missiles). The vehicle carries a total of four missiles in a ready-to-launch configuration. That was very poor for battlefield air-defence. Crotale-NG and MIM-146 ADATS carry eight ready-to-fire missiles, Roland (Bundeswehr versions) has ten ready-to-fire missiles (two in the launchers, eight further in the autoloaders). There was no automated system for reloading/restocking the launcher. Manual reloading was cumbersome, as the eight spare missiles carried on the Chaparall were partly disassembled and have to be reassembled on the launcher (this also the reduces weight that the crew has to lift) - i.e. the missile body with rocket motor, the guidance/warhead section and the two fin sections are all separate pieces - which was very time consuming. Reloading had to be done from the exterior, exposing the crew to possible enemy fire.

There was no radar carried on the vehicle. The missiles of the Chaparall were not stored inside launch containers. As most of the AIM-9 versions (including most used on the Chaparall) are fitted with an IR seeker, they had to be fitted with protective caps/covers preventing dust/mud/snow to collect on the seeker (this was one problem also found on the Robotsystem 98). So the crew had to dismount and remove the caps before firing. The Chaparall had no fire-on-the-move capability. Before firing the whole launcher/turret had to be hydraulically raised (by two feet) into firing position, otherwise it cannot properly elevate.

The Hind helicopter, which had been fielded in significant numbers, is capable of effectively firing its missiles from distances beyond the capabilities of the Army’s currently fielded forward area air defense systems. The addition of the Havoc helicopter, with its ability to hover, “pop up,” and fire (a capability that the Hind helicopter does not possess), presents a greater challenge. Existing radar systems will have more difficulty finding Havoc helicopters because they can hide among terrain features and pop up quickly to fire their weapons.

By 1990 threat helicopters were capable of identifying and destroying U.S. and allied forces and assets at distances greater than 6 kilometers. The Army projected that the helicopter threat would increase with the full fielding of more advanced Soviet helicopters. These advanced helicopters are expected to be much more difficult to identify and to be able to fire effectively from even greater distances. Therefore, the Army considers it imperative that it field a new air defense system by 1995.

In January 1986, the Secretary of Defense approved the FAADS concept and directed the Army to define, acquire, and deploy FAADS as quickly as possible. The Army selected Martin Marietta’s ADATS for its line-of-sight forward heavy requirement. The ADATS system consists of a launcher with eight ready-to-fire missiles mounted on a modified Bradley Fighting Vehicle chassis. The ADATS uses a hypervelocity, laser-guided missile, manufactured by Oerlikon- Buhrle (Switzerland). The missile is considered to be faster, more accurate, and have greater range than the Stinger and Chaparral missiles that are currently deployed in the forward area. The system has a radar and a forward-looking infrared device, which provide aircraft detection, acquisition, identification, and electronic countermeasure capabilities, and it is expected to operate during the day, at night, and in adverse weather. The ADATS is not currently configured with the air defense gun the Army considers necessary for close ranges. The ADATS is intended to detect and reach low-flying targets well beyond the range of the Stinger and Chaparral heat-seeking missiles.

The Army planned to move the Chaparral units from the divisional area to the corps area. Teams of the man-portable Stinger now perform the forward area mission. Chaparral’s new mission is to provide low-altitude air defense for various static sites such as bridges, depots, and command centers. Eventually, the Avenger is expected to replace the Chaparral in the active forces, and the Chaparrals were to be redistributed to reserve component forces.

The Chaparral system was made by Loral Aerospace Corporation at a cost of $80,000 per missile and $1.5 million per fire unit. The Army had a total of 596 Fire Units with 5,358 missiles on hand in the early 1990s. Based on a December 1994 decision, Chaparral was deactivated and removed from the US Army National Guard inventory. This action was completed by the end of FY 1997. Although U.S. forces never fired this missile in combat, the system has been successfully used under such conditions by allies of the United States.



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Page last modified: 01-07-2021 18:00:28 ZULU