New radar extends Army’s vision in Europe as eyes turn to Russia
By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 7, 2017
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — The 2nd Cavalry Regiment Field Artillery Squadron has begun training on a new radar system that enhances the Army’s ability to monitor the border between NATO’s eastern member states and Russia, whose assertive posture has many alliance members worried.
The regiment received the AN/TPQ-53 Quick Reaction Capability Radar last month and immediately began training soldiers to operate it.
“The Q-53 is a game changer,” said Staff Sgt. Larry Williams, the Q-53 section chief. “We’re the first unit to have this in Europe, and we’re really excited to work with it.”
Manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the Q-53 system detects artillery, rockets and mortar fire up to 10 meters of their point of origin. By predicting where the point of impact will strike, it can serve as an early warning system for allied forces.
With a range of 60 kilometers (about 37 miles), it can operate in a 90-degree search mode for maximum range or in a 360-degree mode to monitor a battle space.
The Q-53 was developed in 2010, but until now it has been used only in Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. Army Europe acquired one when its focus shifted to Europe after Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine.
“Our Army is on the move; we are modernizing at a very fast pace,” said Cecil Moore, USAREUR radar field integrator. “U.S. Army Europe has a vital role in enhancing and modernizing our equipping needs.”
Weapon-tracking radars have been in use since the 1960s. Initially they detected high-flying mortar rounds. Since then they have gradually evolved into more sophisticated systems, providing not only the coordinates of hostile guns but also acting as early-warning devices for troops on the positions being targeted.
The new system will replace the aging TPQ-36 and TPQ-37 medium-range radars now in the Army’s inventory. Army officials say that in comparison to the Q-36 and Q-37, the Q-53 is more reliable, performs better and costs less to operate.
“This brings mobility to our forces here,” Williams said. “The whole system can be in place in five minutes or less. It’s easier to maintain, it uses a smaller crew, and allows us to monitor the entire battle space. We can do a lot with this system.”
Officials say USAREUR may acquire an additional Q-53 in the near future.