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Last ATARS Contract Awarded.

Lockheed Martin Fairchild Systems (Syosset, NY) recently received its fourth and final contract to produce five additional AN/ASD-10(V) Advanced Tactical Air Reconnaissance Systems (ATARS) for the US Marine Corps. This contract award follows closely on the heels of an Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM), signed in mid-August by Dr. Lee Buchanan, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, approving full-rate production of the ATARS.

Under development since 1994, the ATARS is the Marines' all-weather tactical reconnaissance system consisting of one low-altitude and one medium-altitude electro-optical sensor, an infrared linescanner, and two tape transport recorder units. The system also makes use of the aircraft's AN/APG-73 Radar Upgrade II, which provides long-range day and night standoff imaging in all weather conditions.

To date, four contracts have been awarded, allowing for the production of a total of 18 flight-ready systems and one testbed system. This fourth contract, valued at $35.3 million, was awarded last month.

Only a limited number of ATARS are being procured for the Marines. The Navy isn't especially interested, mainly due to the current development of the F/A - 18C/D Hornet's replacement, the larger and more capable F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The Navy plans to replace its existing stock of F-14 aircraft with the Super Hornet, slated to enter active duty aboard Navy carriers in FY03. As technology has continued to mature over the years since the original F/A - 18 was introduced, so too has the need for commonality -- and lower overall development costs -- grown across multiple aircraft platforms.

Enter the Shared Reconnaissance Pod (SHARP), currently in its engineering-and-manufacturing-development phase. The SHARP contains all the elements found in the ATARS, with the addition of a real-time datalink. The SHARP is based on an open-architecture design, which allows for individual components to be quickly replaced with upgrades without requiring a redesign of the entire system. The SHARP differs from the ATARS in that it is a podded system mounted on a BRU-32 mount. The BRU-32 mount is found on a number of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, including the Joint Strike Fighter, making it possible for the SHARP to serve aboard a variety of platforms.

Brian Scorpino, the F-18 Tactical Reconnaissance Team Lead, told JED that, though it was initially developed as a replacement for the F-14's Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Pod System-Completely Digital (TARPS-CD), the SHARP is currently being qualified for the Super Hornet only. A first flight demonstration is scheduled for FY01. Further qualifying efforts aboard other platforms are expected to follow this demonstration.

Currently, the US Navy plans to acquire 50 SHARP pods and eight associated ground stations to replace the TARPS-CD.

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Title Annotation:Lockheed Martin Fairchild Systems
Comment:Last ATARS Contract Awarded.(Lockheed Martin Fairchild Systems)
Author:Mallegol, S.
Publication:Journal of Electronic Defense
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2000
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