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Tactical radar tested

By Flying Officer Georgina Lowe

Members of the deployment team after setting up the TADRS.

Members of the deployment team after setting up the TADRS.

Photo by FLGOFF Georgina Lowe

Air Force’s new Tactical Air Defence Radar System (TADRS), incorporating Lockheed Martin’s TPS-77 radar and its ancillary sub-systems, has been successfully tested in the Northern Territory (NT).

The TADRS is a mobile platform that can conduct radar surveillance, track incoming targets and direct aircraft to intercept them.

The TPS-77 is a major part of Project Air 5375, set up in 1998 to develop, build and integrate four operational TADRSs into the Air Force.

The second operational evaluation of the TADRS was conducted from March 19 to April 15 in the NT. Despite the high temperatures, exceeding 30 degrees, 22 deployed members – from No. 114 Mobile and Control Unit, No. 3 Control and Reporting Unit, Headquarters No. 41 Wing and Headquarters Surveillance and Response Group – successfully set up a TADRS.

The TADRS deployment was not only the first deployment of the TPS-77 away from Commonwealth property, but also the first of a series of shadow operations.

Conducting shadow operations is a risk-lessening activity in which the system being evaluated monitors and emulates fighter control operations from a tactical air operations centre or other control agency, to determine if the system can conduct similar functions.

Fighter controllers and air surveillance operators successfully participated in a series of shadow operations during Exercise Arnhem Thunder in the Darwin and Tindal restricted airspace.

Flight Lieutenant Steve Cutajar, Detachment Commander of the second operational evaluation, said it was refreshing to have a new system to work with, but much operational evaluation still remained to be done.

Activities associated with the third operational evaluation started in early May at RAAF Base Williamtown, with a TADRS deployed to the Northern Territory from late May until June 24. These included live air defence control of Air Force fighter aircraft from the deployed TADRS.


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