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Radar’s last hurrah


By Flying Officer Laura Johnson and Flying Officer Jaimee Maika

Members of 3CRU unfold the AN/TPS-43 radar in Kings Park, near the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, for its final deployment before retiring. The radar was part of Defence displays during the national Salute to Veterans, held on August 13 and 14 in Canberra, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific Day.

Members of 3CRU unfold the AN/TPS-43 radar in Kings Park, near the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, for its final deployment before retiring.
The radar was part of Defence displays during the national Salute to Veterans, held on August 13 and 14 in Canberra, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific Day.

Photo provided by
FLGOFF Laura Johnson

RARELY does an occasion the magnitude of the 60th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific (VP) Day also mark the final deployment of a major Defence asset.

Along with commemorating the many Australians who served during World War II, the Salute to Veterans event held in Canberra on August 13 and 14 also marked the farewell deployment for No. 3 Control and Reporting Unit’s venerable AN/TPS-43 Tactical Radar.

The radar has been in service with the Air Force for more than two decades and has been deployed for many exercises and operations throughout Australia.

Originally designed as a disposable radar for use by US forces during the Vietnam War, Australia’s first AN/TPS-43 was brought back from Biloxi, Mississippi, in 1978.

Since then it has been operated by No. 3 Control and Reporting Unit and No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit.

The veteran has served Air Force well for what was planned to be a throwaway piece of kit. This would not have been possible without scrupulous maintenance programs and the ingenuity and inventiveness of highly trained technical personnel.

Its last operational deployment was to Canberra for VP Day, and while the radar was not “turning and burning”, it was one of the stars of the show.

Nine personnel from No. 3 Control and Reporting Unit and one from No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit accompanied the radar and cabin to Canberra on its last hurrah. It was mounted at a static display in Kings Park.

An estimated 3000 patrons visited the display on Sunday August 14.

Members of the public were fascinated with the display detailing the many facets of air battle management and the different functions of No. 3 Control and Reporting Unit.

Visitors to the display included past and present Defence members as well as the general public. Many visitors had worked with the AN/TPS-43 during their service careers, while others were members of the project team working with the AN/TPS-77 radar that will replace it.

Younger visitors relished the opportunity to clamber through the radar cabin and the line to sit in the driver’s seat of an Actros truck seemed endless.

After a long, sunny weekend on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, the AN/TPS-43 was folded down for the final time. It was fitting that No. 3 Control and Reporting Unit’s veteran radar saw its farewell deployment in conjunction with the salute to other veterans.

The radar’s final resting place will now be in a memorial display in front of the Eastern Region Operations Centre, while the cabin and displays will go to Fighter World at Williamtown.

 


 

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