New Delhi: The Indian Army has taken delivery of all twelve AN-TPQ/37 Firefinder Weapon Locating Radars (WLRs) it had contracted to buy from leading US arms manufacturer Raytheon.
According to a report in the coming issue of India Strategic defence magazine, ten of these Firefinder radars had been delivered to the army by last year, and the remaining two have been received recently.
The AN-TPQ/37 Firefinder radars are used to locate and destroy hostile artillery fire. The highly advanced radar can track "first-round" hostile fire within seconds, from a range of three to 50 km, and launch precise counter attacks. The radar also holds strategic significance in that it can be configured to detect missiles by adding a 60-degree sector mode antenna to extend its range.
The radar's computerised signal processors detect, verify and track up to 10 artillery, mortar or rocket projectiles, estimates their firing position as well as the impact point and helps direct friendly fire in neutralising enemy positions subsequently. Manned by a crew of 12, the radar is capable of separating any clutter generated by birds, helicopters and aircraft.
The army had projected a requirement for these radars as far back as the early 1980s,and sorely felt their lack during the 1999 Kargil engagement, when it suffered more than 80 per cent of its casualties because of Pakistani artillery fire. During the engagement, Pakistan also enjoyed the advantage of operating WLRs, though of an earlier version - the AN TPQ/36, which it had acquired from the US in the early 1980s.
India signed a deal with the US for the advanced version of the WLRs in 2002, as relations between the two countries saw a gradual improvement. Initially, an order for eight of these systems was placed, which was eventually increased by another four.
Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), a public sector unit, subsequently stepped in to provide an indigenously developed system, which deploys phased array technology.
Meanwhile, another public sector company, Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML), is supplying carrier vehicles for the Firefinder radars and support systems.
According to Admiral Walter F Doran (Retd), recently appointed president of Raytheon Asia, the company does not make platforms like aircraft or ships but "lends substance" to them. For instance, INS Jalashva, (ex-USS Trenton), purchased by the Indian Navy has its main onboard equipment supplied by Raytheon.
"We do not manufacture platforms, but we lend substance to them... We are the technology virtually behind every mission," Doran says in an interview with India Strategic.
Raytheon has also developed the most advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar technology, which it expects to be a key determinant when orders are placed for the Indian Air Force's (IAF) 126 Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA). Raytheon has offered to install it on either of the two competing US jets, the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet or the Lockheed Martin F-16.
According to Raytheon officials, its AESA radar has no moving parts and it can be used for 10,000 to 15,000 hours, that is, 10 to 30 times more than more vintage radars. AESA units also function as communication tools for between a number of aircraft, satellites, ships or ground control.
The Firefinder deal includes generators, trailers, communications equipment, logistic services, quality assurance, spare parts, publications and other programme support elements.