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Radar planning, preparation and employment of 3-tiered coverage: LCMR, Q-36 and Q-37.

Rarely does a day go by without news of US casualties in Iraq or Afghanistan. Anti-coalition forces employ asymmetrical strategies, such as using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), to frustrate our efforts to bring stability to these areas and are representative of the contemporary operational environment (COE). While these attacks are tactical, they are aimed at achieving strategic effects.


This new enemy perceives the United States as a global power with a huge advantage in technology and warfighting capability but also with very exploitable vulnerabilities. (See Figure 1.)

At the same time, the target acquisition (TA) mission remains unchanged: to sense enemy fire, warn the force and respond to suppress or destroy the fire. The best way to accomplish this mission is to plan and prepare properly and employ a three-tiered approach to radar coverage that also encompasses complementary systems. Emerging technologies promise improvements in the future.

Radar Planning. Tracking incoming rounds in complex terrain or an urban environment is extremely difficult due to the way the radar operates. Therefore, site selections of forward operating bases (FOBs) and radars must be planned carefully.

High "clutter" environments cause significant problems for the radar. The term "radar clutter" refers to any objects that cause unwanted reflections of a radar's electromagnetic energy to be returned to the radar receiver. These unwanted returns compete with valid returns of interest and cause the radar receiver and displays to become more cluttered and difficult to decipher.

Sources of clutter include land surfaces, vegetation, buildings, complex terrain, aircraft (particularly rotary wing) and particulate matter kicked up by wind or aircraft. In some cases, alternative sites may be limited, but if the sensor site planning process considers avoiding all possible sources of clutter, it can yield huge benefits.

The radar site analyses also can serve as input for risk assessment, patrol areas and patrolling activities, force protection plans, radar positioning and search sectors.

Radar Preparation. After securing the optimum site for radar emplacement, the radar section limits the enemy's ability to determine the radar's search sector and time of operation. A fully supported radar deception plan is a low-cost, low-tech solution that pays big dividends.

The enemy understands that the radar acquires in the direction it is pointing. He also is aware that our patterns of activity and generator noise indicate when the radar is active. He seeks sanctuary by firing when the generator is off and attempting to fire from outside the perceived search sector. Random patterns of activity and decoy radar systems easily can disrupt the enemy's ability to determine a radar's collection orientation or even if a radar is operational.

Aggressively patrolling helps to shape enemy operations. Patrolling can limit access to areas that are difficult for the radar to search electronically and minimize the impact of not having a 360-degree search capability.

Three-Tiered Employment. Protecting the force is contingent upon the ability to sense incoming rounds and provide timely warning. Judicious employment of today's fielded TA systems augmented by complementary systems can accomplish the mission. Based on the threat and environmental challenges, there is no "one size fits all" solution to TA.

A tiered approach to radar coverage provides a holistic means to protect personnel and assets from mortar, rocket and cannon artillery attacks while maximizing detections of enemy fire for engagement.

First Tier: Short-Range Lightweight Countermortar Radar (LCMR). Short-range mortars firing from all angles can be a challenge for the Q-36 radars to track and calculate a firing solution for. The Q-37 has a minimum range of 3,000 meters, and neither the Q-37 nor Q-37 has a 360-degree capability. The LCMR solves these problems.

The LCMR was developed to meet the requirements of Special Operations Forces (SOF). Transportation constraints dictated the system be much smaller and lighter than the Army's existing counterfire radars. Currently, LCMRs have been fielded to selected Army and Marine units in the Central Command (CENTCOM) theater of operations.

The LCMR fielded prototype electronically searches 360 degrees, detects and tracks mortar fire beyond the ranges of most mortar weapons and locates a firing weapon with accuracy sufficient to service that target with combat air support or counterfire. The radar weighs approximately 120 pounds and disassembles for transport. It requires only 300 watts of prime power that can be provided by generator, vehicle or commercial power. It also can operate for a few hours from a battery pack.

The radar electronics, excluding control and display, are self-contained inside the antenna. The only external connection is to a power source.

The radar reports target locations to a personal digital assistant (PDA) that communicates with the radar wirelessly, so the radar operator need not remain with the radar. The PDA also provides radar control and receives and displays the system's status and fault messages.

The LCMR has an effective range out to approximately 7,000 meters and was specifically designed to detect, track and locate targets fitting a mortar's radar cross section, trajectory and velocity. Although the LCMR may detect small rockets fired indirectly, it will disregard most such fires.

Second Tier: Mid-Range Q-36 Version 8. Optimized to locate shorter-range, high-angle and lower velocity weapons, such as mortars and shorter range artillery, the Q-36 provides the second tier of radar coverage. It also can locate longer range cannons and rockets within its maximum range. For mortars and artillery, the Q-36's higher probability of detection extends to approximately 14,500 meters for artillery and 18,000 meters for mortars. Rockets can be detected with reasonable probability out to 24,000 meters.

The Q-36 can search up to 6,400 mils (not simultaneously) by using the extended azimuth search function. With this function, the computer automatically traverses the antenna from two to four positions and performs target location.

Fort Sill's Fire Support Software Engineering Center (FSSEC), part of the Communications and Electronic Command (CECOM), is working on software to improve the Q-36's performance. Software Version 7.01 is undergoing live-fire testing. It will enhance the radar's probability of location ([P.sub.L]) against mortars, provide Software Block 1 digital interoperability, provide a visual array of target locations and impacts, and enable a modern notebook computer vice the aging lightweight computer unit (LCU). In addition, FSSEC is preparing a software build to improve performance in a high-clutter environment as well as increase [P.sub.L] against certain types of rockets.

Version 7.01 is expected to complete testing by early December. It will be released to the field on a compact disc to be loaded into the system in FY05.

The Program Manager for Firefinder also has secured a variety of enemy munitions and improvised launch platforms and will fire them to collect observation data. FSSEC will add the data to the radar's future operating software to enhance its performance.

The Third Tier: Long-Range Q-37. The Q-37 was designed to classify and locate faster moving, low-angle projectiles from cannon and rocket launcher firing locations. To maximize this capability, the Q-37 filters out all other radar tracks.

During the Balkan conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo, the greater threat came from high-angle, slow-moving mortars. A software solution was developed to allow the Q-37 to replicate the capabilities of the Q-36 countermortar radar. The mortar ballistic software allows the Q-37 to replicate the Q-36 range of 18 kilometers for mortar fires with a .65 percent of range circular error probable (CEP)--a 65-meter error at a range of 10 kilometers.

The software enables the Q-37 to continue acquiring artillery and rockets. The primary risk is that the software eliminates part of the filtering process and will result in a higher clutter of radar images in a high-intensity conflict. Crew training negates this risk.

The Q-37 Firefinder's greater range, increased accuracy and ability to track mortar rounds provide the third tier of the required radar coverage.

Complementary Systems. These following complementary systems currently can't provide targeting data with a target location error (TLE) small enough to engage a target with indirect fires. However, they can help focus radar assets (and lethal and nonlethal strike assets) and mitigate the lack of 360-degree coverage beyond the LCMR's range.

* The hostile artillery locating system (HALO) is the world's first fourth-generation acoustic weapons locating system. It has been in service with the British Army since 2002 after rigorous trials and tests.

The HALO can detect gun breaks from artillery guns, mortars and tanks, providing point-of-origin and impact predictions. It is a passive, covert system with no emissions. HALO provides 360-degree coverage and can monitor an area of more than 2,000 square kilometers.

The system has demonstrated it can operate in the extremes of terrain and climate. The British Army successfully used HALO in the urban areas and mountainous terrain of Bosnia and Kosovo and in the deserts of Iraq.

HALO uses a distributed array of up to 12 sensor posts to detect pressure waves generated when artillery weapons fire or shells explode. Each sensor post listens throughout 360 degrees and computes location data on enemy artillery firing at rates of up to eight rounds per second, identifying each individual gun position. Data collected is forwarded to the HALO command post (HCP), processed and presented to the operator.

With a typical sensor dispersion pattern, three or more HALO sensors will intercept the pressure wave, and the triangulation determines the firing gun's position to a high degree of accuracy. As a complementary system with a 360-degree capability, HALO can vector other Firefinder assets, helping to compensate for the Firefinder radar's limitation of a 1,600-mil search sector.

* The unattended tactical acoustic measuring and signature intelligence system (UTAMS) was designed and built by the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), Adelphi, Maryland, under the sponsorship of the Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), Fort Belvoir, Virginia. UTAMS can detect mortar and rocket launches and impacts. It is comprised of three to five acoustic arrays, each with four microphones, a processor, radio link and power source. Interface is via laptop.

* The Purple Hawk was designed and built in Israel and fielded in the Israeli Defense Force. As a mast-mounted electrical optics system, it is highly rated as a countermortar tool.

The Purple Hawk also has demonstrated its capabilities in perimeter surveillance. It is remotely operated via microwave or fiber optics and soon will have a laser designator.

Emerging Technologies. Technologies are emerging that provide increased range and accuracy to help close the capabilities gap in today's radar coverage of the battlefield.

* The Phoenix battlefield sensor system (PB[S.sup.2]) will be an S-band phased array radar system with computer-controlled signal processing to detect, verify and track targets and classify enemy and friendly mortar and cannon projectiles, rockets and missiles. The phased-array antenna will allow Phoenix to detect and locate weapons firing from four to 300 kilometers away. The first unit fielded with Phoenix is projected for FY09.

Phoenix will operate in three modes: normal, fast scan and extended-range. Normal mode will allow the radar to detect hostile mortar, artillery and rockets while simultaneously supporting friendly operations. Fast scan will be similar to normal but allow the radar to acquire and track more than 50 in-flight projectiles simultaneously. The extended-range mode will support theater missile defense (TMD) by determining launch points and impact predict points and stating vectors for missile acquisitions, which will allow Phoenix to augment air defense assets.

In the future force, Phoenix will be the primary means to detect and locate enemy indirect fire weapons throughout the spectrum of conflict at the unit of employment (UE) level. It will range the tiered system's "white spaces" not covered by other TA radars.

* The multi-mission radar (MMR) will be a highly mobile, 360-degree radar easily configurable to perform four missions: air defense surveillance (ADS), counterfire target acquisition (CTA), fire control (FC) and air traffic control (ATC). The FC and CTA missions are of primary concern for fire supporters. Using the MMR for the FC mission, it will be able to track friendly rounds fired against enemy targets to provide "did-hit" grid data immediately for registration and early predictive battlefield damage assessment (BDA).

Several MMR systems will be able to be deployed on the battlefield to perform a variety of missions, either individually or simultaneously. See Figure 2 for FC and CTA MMR capabilities.

The MMR will replace the Q-36 Firefinder radar but provide greater range and accuracy with 360-degree coverage. It will provide the new brigade combat teams (BCTs) configured as unit of action (UA) formations the information they need to exploit their battlespace. The fielding window for the MMR to multiple branches is 2012 to 2015.

Protecting the force against a COE enemy who has a seemingly endless supply of mortar rounds is truly a Gordian knot. In the CENTCOM area of operations, each FOB has a different fight; a tiered approach tailors the radar coverage to the force's specific needs and operating constraints.

The tiered approach, coupled with complementary systems, will focus our collection efforts and techniques and render the enemy more vulnerable to detection and counterfire, deterring future attacks.
* Unwilling to accept heavy losses.
* Sensitive to public opinion and lack of commitment.
* Prefer standoff combat.
* Conduct predictable operations.
* Depend on high technology.

Figure 1: Some Enemy Perceptions of US Vulnerabilities



* Decreases logistical support requirements as the radar covers more of the battlefield and performs multiple missions.

* Supports intelligence requirements for data to develop a complete common operational picture (COP).

* Provides accurate point-of-origin and impact-point prediction (IPP) information for early warning of and counterfire on enemy artillery-delivered high-precision munitions (ADHPM), such as those fired by cannons and rockets and mortars.

* Alerts the force to incoming theater ballistic missiles.

* Provides data for destroying incoming unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Cruise missiles, air-to-surface missiles, limited very short-range ballistic missiles and limited hostile fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft.

By Chief Warrant Officer Three Daniel W. Caldwell

Chief Warrant Officer Three Daniel W. Caldwell is the Radar-Target Acquisition Project Officer in the TRADOC Proponency Office Sensors (TPO Sensors), part of the Futures Development and Integration Center, Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Among other assignments, he was the Division FA Intelligence Officer in the 2d Infantry Division Artillery in Korea and Targeting Officer for III Corps Artillery at Fort Sill. In Operation Desert Shield and Storm in the Gulf, he served as a Multiple-Launch Rocket System Crew Chief with A Battery, 40th Field Artillery, 3d Armored Division. He also served more than 27 months in Vietnam as an Intelligence Analyst for G2 US Army Vietnam. He is a graduate of the Joint Targeting Course at Dam Neck, Virginia; Joint Aerospace Command and Control Course at Hurlburt Field, Florida; Joint Firepower Control Course at Nellis AFB, Nevada; and the Systems Acquisition Management Course, Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
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Title Annotation:Lightweight Countermortar Radar
Author:Caldwell, Daniel W.
Publication:FA Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2004
Previous Article:The digital battery "TOC".
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