Category Archives: Radars

Air Surveillance Radar

The Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR) antenna landed on the future USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29), January 16, 2023.

Future USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29) Successfully Installs EASR Antenna

This marks the completion of EASR system deliveries for what will be the first LPD-17 Class ship and the first U.S. Navy install and activation of the SPY-6(V)2, rotating variant, S-Band radar.

«The progress made is a testament to the collaboration across multiple organizations in bringing this next-generation radar to the LPD program. The U.S. Navy and our industry partners look forward to systems activation and testing as LPD-29 continues on the path to sea trials later this year», said Captain Cedric J. McNeal, Amphibious Warfare Program Manager, Program Executive Office (PEO Ships).

SPY-6(V)2 provides the U.S. Navy with a common hardware variant for carrier and amphibious ships. In addition to providing hardware and software commonality, the radar will also contribute to increased engagement and overall ship self-defense.

As with all incremental technology enhancements, the U.S. Navy is applying an increased focus to ensure that the system is provided on schedule, integrated into the ship/combat system and activated. Ultimately, EASR will be made ready as an integral sensor in an integrated Ship Self-Defense System to support the ship’s employment.

As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, boats and craft.

GM200 radar

On Wednesday, 1 February 2023, French defence minister Sébastien Lecornu and his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiy Reznikov met at the Thales site in Limours, south of Paris, a centre of excellence for air defence in Europe, to sign a contract for the delivery of a complete short-range air defence system, including a Ground Master 200 (GM200) radar, to help protect Ukraine.

GM200 radar
«Thales is proud to be playing a part in the protection of Ukraine, in particular by providing air defence systems», Patrice Caine, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer

As a recognised European leader in systems-of-systems integration, Thales draws on its air defence expertise to help nations guarantee their sovereignty and protect their citizens and territorial interests.

Thales’s air defence technologies provide protection from all types of air threats at all levels of the airspace and cover the entire decision-making chain, from detection and identification to neutralisation.


Supporting Ukraine’s air defences

The contract signed by the Ukrainian defence ministry, the French defence ministry and Thales covers the delivery of a complete short-range air defence systems, including a GM200 radar, a command-and-control centre, a radio communications system and air target designators.

The visit to Limours by the two defence ministers included a tour of Thales’s military radar design, production and support facilities.

Today, Thales’s Limours site is recognised as Europe’s largest centre of expertise in the field of air defence.


A complete threat detection and protection system for Ukraine

To keep populations and the armed forces safe, threats must be detected as early as possible whenever and wherever they arise – at sea, in the air or on land.

To defeat modern threats, which are more discreet, more manoeuvrable and faster than ever, air defence systems must be capable of detecting and tracking any type of target and providing actionable data on objects in motion in the air, on land or on the surface of the sea.

Thales has long-standing expertise in every aspect of air defence, from drone countermeasures to anti-ballistic missile defence: surface radars, airborne radars, command centres, communication systems and equipment, and different types of effectors.

The GM200 and the other surface radars in the Ground Master family offer an effective response to the types of threats faced by Ukraine, which include drones and long-range threats such as cruise missiles, helicopters and combat aircraft.

As a recognised European leader in systems integration, Thales has the capability to integrate air defence systems-of-systems and to manage compatibility with other defences, which is a real advantage for users needing to deploy their assets quickly and efficiently.

Next Generation Radar

Northrop Grumman Corporation is developing AN/APG-85, an advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar for the F-35 Lightning II. Northrop Grumman currently manufactures the AN/APG-81 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) fire control radar, the cornerstone to the F-35 Lightning II’s sensor suite.

Northrop Grumman is developing the next generation radar for the F-35 Lightning II (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

The AN/APG-85 is an advanced multifunction sensor that will be compatible with all variants of the F-35 Lightning II aircraft and will be capable of defeating current and projected adversarial air and surface threats.

The development and integration of APG-85 will incorporate some of the latest technologies available and help ensure air superiority. This advanced sensor will provide unparalleled battlespace situational awareness that translates into platform lethality, effectiveness and survivability.

Northrop Grumman plays a key role in the development, modernization, sustainment and production of the F-35 Lightning II. In addition to producing the AN/APG-85 and AN/APG-81 radars, the company manufactures the center fuselage and wing skins for the aircraft, produces and maintains several sensor systems, avionics, mission systems and mission-planning software, pilot and maintainer training systems courseware, electronic warfare simulation test capability, and low-observable technologies.

TPY-4 Radar

On November 17, 2022 the Royal Norwegian Air Force selected the Lockheed Martin TPY-4 next generation ground-based air surveillance radar to enhance the country’s long-range surveillance capability.

TPY-4 Radar
Royal Norwegian Air Force Selects the Lockheed Martin TPY-4 Radar to Enhance Homeland Defense

«We are grateful to be selected to help protect the safety of Norwegians. The TPY-4 is a continued advancement of our 21st Century Security vision supporting joint all domain operations for the United States and its allies», said Chandra Marshall, vice president of Radar and Sensor Systems at Lockheed Martin. «Norway joins the U.S. Air Force as our first NATO partners for the TPY-4 radar, and we look forward to offering this radar to solve evolving challenges of international partners».

The radar can be adapted to new missions via simple software enhancements without any architectural or hardware changes. The TPY-4 radar can identify and track smaller threats at longer ranges than ever before. This multi-mission system will integrate seamlessly into existing air defense systems and can operate in contested environments.

«The threats that air defence radar has to counter are increasing and enhanced operational requirements call for more capable radars, including detection of small targets at longer ranges, enhanced electronic protection measures and target tracking. The TPY-4 radar will provide the people of Norway with the confidence of 24/7/365 homeland security for decades to come», stated Øyvind Kvalvik, Major General and Head of Acquisitions at the Norwegian Defence Material Agency (NDMA). «This replacement initiative is of utmost importance to our nation, and we are excited to add this radar to our defence system».

Norway’s TPY-4 radars will be integrated into Lockheed Martin’s active production line, making this a low-risk option for the Norwegian Defence Material Agency. In March, the U.S. Air Force selected the TPY-4 radar system for its Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long Range Radar program.

Norwegian industry has been a crucial partner in the development of the TPY-4 radar. Lockheed Martin leveraged an extensive Norwegian supplier-base for this radar system. In particular, the relationship with KONGSBERG Defense & Aerospace resulted in the production of the first TPY-4 which included the Platform Electronics SubSystem (PES) built by KONGSBERG, a critical element in the foundation of this next generation sensor that meets and exceeds current customer requirements for long-range surveillance.

«Our strong relationship with Lockheed Martin exemplifies the importance of building durable and trusted partnerships to serve both national and international customers. Together we will deliver world-class products within radar technology to the Norwegian Armed Forces. This contract is not only important for us as a strategic partner for the Norwegian Armed Forces but also for our subcontractors in Norway», says Eirik Lie, president of KONGSBERG.

The TPY-4 radar offers advanced early warning and air command and control capabilities

The TPY-4 radar has significant commonality with the U.S. Army’s new Sentinel A4 radar, which will replace the Sentinel A3.


Radars for 21st Century Security

Lockheed Martin continues to invest in advancing digital radar capabilities to meet evolving threats faced by nations worldwide. The TPY-4 radar is part of Lockheed Martin’s ongoing efforts to leverage proven technology for long-range air surveillance radars.

Lockheed Martin’s high-performing, high-reliability, solid-state radar systems specialize in counter target acquisition, early warning, situational awareness, and integrated air and missile defense. It’s why Lockheed Martin’s ground-based radars are the choice of more than 30 nations on six continents.

Radars for 21st Century Security
Next Generation Multi-Mission Radar


Radar Features

Radar Type: 3D Element Based Digital Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) with Gallium Nitride (GaN)

  • Digital at Every Element
  • Software Defined Radar

Frequency: L-Band (1215 to 1400 Mhz)

Rotation Rate: Various and Stop/Stare

Simultaneous Multi Mission Operation

  • Air Surveillance
  • Low Profile Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Detection
  • Ballistic Missile Search and Dedicated Track
  • Maritime Surveillance
  • Satellite Track

Mode 5 Capable

Transportable via C-130 Hercules, C-17 Globemaster III, Truck, Rail or Helicopter

Operation in Extreme Environments

Radar Features
Next Generation Radar for Next Generation Threats


Radar Coverage

Operation Mode 6 Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) Stop / Stare
Azimuth 360° +/- 45°
Range 300 NMI, 345 miles/555 km 540 NMI, 621 miles/1000 km
Height 100 kft, 30.5 km
Search Elevation -6° to 38°
Track Elevation -6° to 90°
Lockheed Martin TPY-4 Radar
Radars for 21st Century Security

Airborne Early Warning

Northrop Grumman Corporation’s first Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) sensor was successfully installed on an E-7 Wedgetail Mk1 Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft for the UK’s Royal Air Force. Equipped with the MESA sensor the UK’s Wedgetail fleet will be strengthened with an airborne sensing capability at longer ranges, enabling critical early warning, surveillance and air battle management functionality.

E-7 Wedgetail Mk1 AEW&C
Northrop Grumman’s Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) sensor has been installed on an E-7 Wedgetail Mk1 Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft for the UK’s Royal Air Force (Photo Courtesy of Boeing)

«Northrop Grumman’s in-service, combat-proven MESA system already provides mission crews with advanced Airborne Moving Target Indication (MTI) capability to support NATO assurance missions against evolving threats», said Jack Hawkins, director, MESA, Northrop Grumman. «This advanced MTI will enhance UK forces’ ability to simultaneously detect, track and identify airborne and maritime adversary targets at long range, while maintaining continuous surveillance of the operational area».

Utilizing an active production line, Northrop Grumman’s MESA sensor provides warfighters with critical domain awareness in all weather conditions. With the flexibility to adapt to missions, threats and environments, this modern Airborne Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) sensor provides 360-degree situational awareness and can be optimized so operators can focus on priority missions, rapidly revisit targets, and pass relevant information to enable timely command and control decisions, and engagement of threats at long ranges.

Australia, Turkey and South Korea have fielded AEW&C systems, with production underway on the second and third systems for the UK’s E-7 Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft.

Counter-UAS Mission

The U.S. Army’s AN/TPQ-53 (Q-53) Multi-Mission Radar (MMR) successfully integrated with an Army command and control system and provided tracking data to launch a Counter Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS) defeat system in Yuma, Arizona. The rapidly deployable Q-53 radar, which is ideal for the C-UAS mission, is developed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Syracuse, New York.

AN/TPQ-53 (Q-53) MMR
U.S. Army’s Q-53 Multi-Mission Radar Demonstrates Counter-UAS Mission

During the exercise, the Q-53 integrated with the Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control (FAAD C2) system to serve as the primary fire control source for the Coyote Block 2 C-UAS defeat system during testing in Yuma.

«The Q-53 radar has a long history of exceeding Army requirements and adapting to their evolving missions. This recent testing milestone reflects our ongoing commitment to enhance and upgrade the system capability», said David Kenneweg, program director, Lockheed Martin Army Radars. «The Army’s Q-53 MMR can enhance air surveillance capabilities and integrate with C2 systems and broader weapon systems, enabling Soldiers to detect threats and make decisions faster».

Lockheed Martin has delivered 195 Q-53 radars to the Army and international partners. The Q-53 detects, classifies, tracks and determines the location of enemy indirect fire such as mortars, rockets and artillery, and its mission continues to expand to other emerging threats.


Modernization for 21st Century Security

The Q-53 radar has high reliability and its performance drives the Army’s desire to modernize the radar and continue to expand the system’s mission requirements. In July 2021, the U.S. Army awarded Lockheed Martin a significant follow-on contract to demonstrate the ability of the Q-53 radars to enhance future capability and maintain superior performance over peer and near-peer adversaries.

These enhancements enable increased radar performance in challenging operating environments. Upgrades include support for Long Range Precision Fires and Air and Missile Defense missions. The Q-53 capabilities are key enablers for these missions and represent continued dedication to the advancement of technology in this space.

Beyond Linear Processing

Radar systems have seen many technology improvements in apertures (antennas) and associated hardware and software since the nascent operational versions in World War II. What hasn’t changed significantly over the decades, however, is that radars still use linear signal processing between the aperture and the detector. In the 1940s linear radar signal processing used vacuum tubes and analog circuits, while current radars accomplish linear signal processing digitally with microchips and software.

Beyond Linear Processing (BLiP)
DARPA seeks novel algorithms to enable current radar performance in systems half the size

With the Beyond Linear Processing (BLiP) program, DARPA’s goal is to improve radar performance by applying innovative signal processing methods. BLiP will leverage high-power computer processing to explore new, non-linear and iterative signal processing techniques that could lead to lighter, smaller, and less expensive – but equally capable – radar systems. If successful, BLiP would enable the same radar performance achieved on large platforms today on much smaller sea, air, and ground platforms.

«A lot of radar improvements over the past 30 years have focused on growing the size of the aperture for greater sensitivity or increasing transmitter power», said Frank Robey, BLiP program manager in DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office. «Those are important, but if we want to shrink aperture size by 50% and still get the same radar performance then we need to disrupt the linear signal processing paradigm. With the tremendous increases in computer processing power available today, we can take a fresh look at radar signal processing and explore iterative, leap-ahead techniques».

BLiP will address the current immaturity of non-linear and iterative signal processing methods. Over the course of the two-year program, end-to-end radar signal processing chains will be developed, analyzed, implemented and tested – initially through non-real-time laboratory testing and culminating in real-time implementation and full-scale field testing using an operational National Weather Service radar. Key technical challenges for BLiP will be the development, understanding, and optimization of the signal processing chain, and the practical aspects of implementing BLiP algorithms using real-time, high-performance processing.

A Proposers Day for interested proposers is being held on October 28. The BLiP Broad Agency Announcement solicitation provides full program details for submitting an abstract and/or proposal.

Radars for Ukraine

Sensor specialist HENSOLDT is supplying four of its high-performance radars in record time for Diehl Defence’s IRIS-T SLM air defence system, which is designed to strengthen Ukraine’s defence capability. As part of an order from Diehl Defence worth a two-digit million euro sum, one of the TRML-4D radars has already been delivered, with three more to follow within a few months.

HENSOLDT’s TRML-4D multifunction radar provides superior detection capability (Graphic/Photo: HENSOLDT)

Thomas Müller, CEO of HENSOLDT, said: «The situation in Ukraine requires quick and decisive action. Due to a serial production line and the commitment of our employees, we are able to deliver such systems to protect the population in the shortest possible time».

TRML-4D uses the latest Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar technology with multiple digitally shaped beams. It is capable of detecting, tracking and classifying various types of aerial targets, with a focus on small, fast and low-flying and/or manoeuvring cruise missiles and aircraft, as well as hovering helicopters. It ensures the rapid detection and tracking of some 1,500 targets in a radius of up to 250 km/155 miles.

HENSOLDT has decades of experience with radar systems for air defence and actively drives the further development of key technologies in this field. In addition to the TRML-4D multifunction radar, the company’s portfolio also includes the Twinvis passive radar, the Spexer product family and radars for securing ship and air traffic. HENSOLDT supplies radars for the new frigates and corvettes of the German Navy, for airspace surveillance and for approach control at airfields of the German Armed Forces, among others.

As purely German systems, HENSOLDT’s solutions are not dependent on foreign technology and therefore offer the highest degree of approvability and certifiability for operation in Germany, as well as the highest possible security of supply. At the same time, they are fully compatible with NATO’s integrated air defence architecture.

«IRIS» from Germany

In October, Germany delivered the first IRIS-T SLM medium-range anti-aircraft system to Ukraine. There is a lot of talk about this complex among specialists – we will try to understand why this system raises so many questions, what is good about IRIS-T SLM, and why Ukraine needs this system today.

IRIS-T SLM-Launcher
IRIS-T SLM-Launcher

But let’s change the order of presentation this time and immediately start with the last question: why does Ukraine need the IRIS-T SLM complex? If you are monitoring the situation developing with the air defense systems of Ukraine, you should be aware that today it is already possible to state a good equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with portable short-range anti-aircraft missile systems (up to 5-7 km/3-4 miles) – these are the famous American FIM-92 Stinger and British Starstreak HVM on Alvis Stormer armored personnel carriers. What As for long-range air defense systems, this niche, albeit with a sin in half, is still closed by the old Soviet S-300 systems. Of course, they lag behind the American MIM-104 Patriot anti-aircraft systems in terms of their capabilities, but to some extent they cope with the tasks set. The worst situation is with medium-range air defense systems, which are obliged to close the gap between the long-range S-300 and the «last line of defense».

That is why western countries that have analyzed this situation are now starting to supply Ukraine with medium-range anti-aircraft systems – Norwegian NASAMS complexes and German IRIS-T SLM systems. And then we will make the following remark: NASAMS and IRIS-T SLM complexes have one thing in common. The fact is that the Norwegian NASAMS, and the German IRIS-T SLM were created on the basis of air-to-air missiles, which were upgraded to launch from the ground. Only in the case of the NASAMS complex, we are talking about an improved medium-range AIM-120 AMRAAM medium-range missile of American production, while in the German system the IRIS-T air-to-air missile was taken as a basis, which is designed for both close combat and interception of targets at medium range (up to 40 km/25 miles).

So, it makes sense to start the «debriefing» with a story about the key element of the German complex – the IRIS-T rocket. To begin with, we will explain its name. Despite the obvious associations with the English word Iris («Iris»), the name of the complex has nothing to do with «Iris». IRIS-T is an abbreviation that stands for InfraRed Imaging System Tail/Thrust Vector-Controlled. That is, we are dealing with a missile equipped with an infrared homing head, as well as with a controlled thrust vector, like the American fighter with vertical take-off and landing F-35B.

IRIS-T rocket
IRIS-T rocket

Initially, IRIS-T was created to replace the American AIM-9 Sidewinder close-combat missile, which has been in service with many NATO countries since 1956. The Germans approached this issue with their inherent thoroughness, so the new missile received backward compatibility: any aircraft capable of launching AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles can also launch IRIS-T missiles. however, in essence, the German development is quite an original design, even taking into account the fact that at the development stage of IRIS-T the German company Diehl used a navigation system from the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile.

In the 1980s, NATO countries signed an agreement that the United States would develop a medium-range air-to-air missile to replace the AIM-7 Sparrow, and Britain and Germany would develop their own short-range air-to-air missile to replace the AIM-9 Sidewinder. The American development was called the AIM-120 AMRAAM, and the British-German one was called AIM-132 ASRAAM. These abbreviations, as it is not difficult to notice, they differ from each other only in one letter: AMRAAM – the second letter «M» stands for Medium, indicating the average range; ASRAAM – the second «S» stands for Short, indicating close combat.

The roots of the ASRAAM project date back to 1968, when the development of the Hawker Siddeley SRAAM («Taildog») rocket began. In 1974, all work on the Hawker Siddeley SRAAM rocket was curtailed. The closed project was recalled in the 80s, when the UK and Germany began to develop the ASRAAM missile – the UK provided most of the remaining components from the Hawker Siddeley SRAAM, and the Germans created a new homing head. Since then, the need for high maneuverability of the missile has been reduced in favor of a longer flight range.

After the reunification of Germany in 1990, the Germans discovered a large stockpile of Soviet Vympel R-73 (AA-11 Archer according to NATO classification) missiles intended for MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters. German experts came to the conclusion that the key capabilities of the R-73 were noticeably underestimated. In particular, it was found that these Soviet missiles have good maneuverability and are much more functional in terms of capturing and tracking homing heads. than the latest versions of the same AIM-9 Sidewinder. Therefore, in 1990, Germany withdrew from the general ASRAAM project, while the UK decided to continue the development of ASRAAM in accordance with the original requirements.

At the end of 1990, the United States came to similar conclusions and began to modernize the existing design of the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile to provide increased maneuverability and improved characteristics of the IRCCM (InfraRed Counter CounterMeasures). During this program, the Americans created a new aim-9X Sidewinder short-range missile, which, by the way, can be launched from an upgraded version of the upgraded version. M1152A1 launchers of the Norwegian NASAMS complex.

NASAMS complex
NASAMS complex

But back to the German IRIS-T-missile. Compared to the AIM-9M Sidewinder, the IRIS-T has a higher resistance to electronic suppression measures and to glare suppression. Improvements in target discrimination have increased the firing range from 5 to 8 times, compared to outdated versions of the AIM-9M Sidewinder missile. The IRIS-T missile is also capable of hitting targets coming behind the aircraft, which was made possible by extreme maneuverability at close range. the distance provided by the controlled thrust vector, as well as due to the ability of the missile to capture the target after launch.

IRIS-T is capable of intercepting fast-moving and miniature targets, such as air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles, as well as air-to-surface and surface-to-surface missiles, drones and cruise missiles. To increase the probability of a direct hit, the IRIS-T missile is equipped with an active radar proximity sensor.

The ground-based version of the IRIS-T missile used in the IRIS-T SL anti-aircraft system has more advanced capabilities that allow it to destroy aircraft and helicopters, cruise missiles, air-to-surface missiles, anti-ship missiles, anti-radar missiles and large-caliber tactical missiles. IRIS-T is also extremely effective in dealing with drones and other small, highly maneuverable targets at extremely short and medium distances.

IRIS-T missile
IRIS-T missile

The Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) has tested a new air-to-surface missile developed by Diehl BGT Defense. In September 2016, test firings were conducted in Norway to test the concept of capturing, tracking and hitting a sea target, which is a small high-speed strike boat. The IRIS-T missile was launched from the Norwegian Air Force’s F-16AM multirole aircraft. As for the air-to-surface class, the IRIS-T missile retained its standard hardware configuration, including its high-explosive fragmentation warhead and infrared guidance package with updated software needed for additional surface attack capabilities. Basic air-to-ground functionality provides the ability to detect, track, and engage individual targets, such as boats/ships, small buildings, and vehicles on the ground.

There was also a very exotic version of the IRIS-T missile, which received the designation IDAS – Interactive Defence and Attack System for Submarines. The IDAS is a naval version of the submarine launch missile that is being developed for the German next-generation submarine Type 212A. The IDAS missile is designed to deal with air threats, small or medium surface ships and nearby ground targets. The flight range of the IDAS is about 40 km/25 miles. At the same time, the missile is launched from the nose launchers, part of its movement is carried out under water, and after reaching the surface, IDAS flies through the air. The missile is equipped with an infrared homing head: the length of the missile is 2.9 m/9.5 feet, the diameter is 180 mm/7 inches, the mass is 120 kg/265 lbs.


So, the Germans managed to develop a smart, extremely maneuverable, universal missile capable of hitting targets at short and medium range. It is not surprising that the developers of anti-aircraft systems soon took this development in sight.

As part of the MEADS (Medium Extended Air Defense System) program, the German Air Force decided to integrate a radar-guided version of the IRIS-T missile into its new anti-aircraft system, designated IRIS-T SL. The last two letters of this abbreviation stand for very simply Surface-Launched [missile].

This version of the missile has a pointed nose that reduces drag, which makes it easy to distinguish it from the usual IRIS-T with a discarded nose fairing. The IRIS-T SL missile system uses a GPS-based inertial navigation system and a radar data transmission channel for IRIS-T command guidance at the initial stage, and the interference-resistant infrared homing head is activated at the final stage of the flight. Compared to the standard air-launched IRIS-T, the engine diameter of the IRIS-T SL anti-aircraft missile was increased from 127 to 152 mm/5 to 6 inches. Qualification tests of the IRIS-T SL complex were completed in January 2015 at the Denel Overberg test site in South Africa.

IRIS-T SL missile
IRIS-T SL missile

Based on the development of the IRIS-T SL, three variants of the anti-aircraft system were created: IRIS-T SLS, IRIS-T SLM and IRIS-T SLX.

Despite the abundance of letters, it is not so difficult to understand these abbreviations: here one letter is added to the letters SL (Surface-L aunched): S – Short-range; M – Medium range; X – long range.

Operational tests of the IRIS-T SLM medium-range complex were completed in January 2022. It is he who will be transferred to Ukraine – more precisely, we are now talking about the transfer of 4 anti-aircraft systems, the first of which will appear in October.

A variant of the IRIS-T SLX long-range complex with the latest dual-mode homing head has been in development since April 2022.

The Swedish army has already received a version of the IRIS-T SLS short-range complex to replace the outdated RBS 70 system. Four missiles are mounted on the Eldenhet 98 launcher, which is mounted on a special version of the Bv 410 tracked vehicle. The complex includes a Giraffe 1X radar from SAAB.

Similar to the NASAMS complex, the German IRIS-T SLM system can be integrated with various modern AESA (active phased array) radars, such as the Hensoldt TRML-4D, Thales Ground Master 200 MM/C, CEA CEAFAR and SAAB Giraffe 4A. At IDEX 2019, a version of the complex called Falcon Ground Based Air Defense with a Lockheed-Martin Skykeeper control and monitoring station was shown. Giraffe 4A radar and Diehl IRIS-T SLM launcher.

German IRIS-T SLM system
German IRIS-T SLM system

And for a snack, we left the key technical characteristics of the German anti-aircraft systems of the IRIS-T SL family.

Short-range system IRIS-T SLS: maximum target interception range – 10 km/6.2 miles; the maximum height of target interception is 6 km/3.7 miles.

Medium-range complex IRIS-T SLM: maximum target interception range – 40 km/25 miles; the maximum height of target interception is 20 km/12.4 miles.

IRIS-T SLX long-range system: maximum target interception range – 80 km/48 miles; the maximum height of target interception is 30 km/18.6 miles.

As for radars, then, as we noted above, the IRIS-T SL complex allows integration with radars of various types. Thus, the IRIS-T SLS short-range system, made for Sweden, was equipped with the Giraffe 1X radar from SAAB, which detects targets at a range of 25 km/15.5 miles and at an altitude of up to 10 km/6.2 miles, which is quite acceptable for a close combat system.

Naturally, for the medium-range IRIS-T SLM complex, which Ukraine will receive, a more powerful radar is needed. Perhaps the Ukrainian version will come with an active multifunctional radar Hensoldt TRML-4D.

Hensoldt TRML-4D
Hensoldt TRML-4D

It is worth noting the presence of passive radar sensors that can provide operators of the IRIS-T complex with additional capabilities for covert early detection of air objects, as well as relaying the picture of the air situation to operational personnel without launching the radiation of the main radar, which dramatically increases the survivability of the entire system. According to the developers, this additional passive detection system can provide omnidirectional 3D tracking of more than 180 objects at a distance of up to 250 km/155 miles.

As you can see, Ukraine will have at its disposal the latest German development – weapons of the XXI century, which are not yet in service with Germany itself. Let’s take the liberty to assume that if the Ukrainians manage (and we have no doubt about this) to successfully master the IRIS-T SLM medium-range anti-aircraft system, this will be an important step for the development of other complexes of the IRIS-T SL family in the future. when the Germans need to test the latest IRIS-T SLX long-range system, the choice will also be made in favor of Ukraine.

And the last note at the end: the ability to work with the IRIS-T family of missiles can be useful in the future, when the Ukrainian Air Force begins to switch to air-to-air missiles of the NATO bloc countries.



PGZ and its subsidiaries, PIT-RADWAR, JELCZ and WZU, working hand-in-hand with MBDA have been making rapid progress on the SHOrt-Range Air Defence (SHORAD) solution, known as «Mała NAREW», with the first two Polish iLaunchers of the system already in Poland undergoing integration and trials ahead of delivery to the customer.

PGZ and MBDA making rapid progress on «Mała NAREW»

This project aims to deliver rapidly two SHORAD-class fire units equipped with Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM) missiles, integrated with SOŁA radar stations and the Polish Command and Control (C2) system.

The «Mała NAREW» units are being adapted to work within one SHORAD class solution. Functional integration of the radar stations, C2 systems and CAMM missile fire control software is going hand-in-hand with the physical integration of subsequent iLauncher with JELCZ trucks chassis. The first training sessions for operators of iLauncher and Polish components of the «Mała NAREW» system has already been conducted.

Sebastian Chwałek, CEO of PGZ S.A. said: «By implementing this program, we strengthen our credibility as a strategic partner for the army, ready to provide advanced air defence systems at record pace. We treat «Mała NAREW» as a test ground before the NAREW program, showing what our capabilities are and how to cooperate with major foreign partner MBDA UK on a joint project. We believe that this relationship will translate into further successes, both for our companies and the armies that will trust us to bring their air defence into XXI century».

Chris Allam, Managing Director of MBDA UK, said: «We’re proud that the co-operation between MBDA and PGZ achieved the arrival of the first air defence hardware into Poland in an incredibly short timeframe. The successes of the «Mała Narew» project are a very positive indicator for the success of PGZ-MBDA co-operation on the wider NAREW project that will include extensive transfer of technology and knowledge to Poland on missiles and launchers».

The «Mała NAREW» program, in addition to the fire units themselves, also includes a training and logistics package. Under the project, PGZ and MBDA are conducting integration of selected British and Polish elements of air defence systems as well as provide technical support for the ordered equipment at the operational stage. The contract provides for the delivery of the first «Mała NAREW» fire unit this year, and the second in 2023.