ILA 2018: Strengthening the Electronic Umbrella

Germany is undertaking a major enhancement of its ground-based air defences

The German government will perform a significant modernisation of both its fixed and deployed Air Defence Ground Environment (ADGE) sensors, with a major planned acquisition of up to 25 new ground-based air surveillance radars to this end. These acquisitions will be spread across the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) and the Heer (German Army). In the air domain, this will include the acquisition of four new ground-based air surveillance radars to support Germany’s domestic GEADGE (German Air Defence Ground Environment) Integrated Air Defence (IADS) system. In the land domain, up to 21 new radars will be acquired to support theatre-level, deployed manoeuvre forces and deployed fixed sites.

The Luftwaffe has already performed a modernisation of its ground-based air surveillance radars via the procurement of six Thales Ground Master-400 (GM-400) series S-band (2.3-2.5/2.7-3.7GHz) 216 nautical mile/nm (400 kilometre/km) range radars which are designated as the GM-406F in Luftwaffe service. The GM-406 is in fact a variant of the GM-400 which has a more powerful transmitter than the GM-403 member of the GM-400 family affording a 20 percent range increase, potentially taking the GM-406F range up to 258nm (139km). These six radars were ordered in 2010 and delivered between 2013 and 2015 in a deal worth $121.7 million. These radars were ordered as part of an overarching Luftwaffe initiative to replace its Hughes/Raytheon HR-3000 S-band ground-based air surveillance radar, four of which were delivered between 1885 and 1986. The additional four radars could be procured to replace the nine Lockheed Martin AN/TPS-77 L-band (1.215GHz to 1.4GHz) ground-based air surveillance radars used by the Luftwaffe as part of the GEADGE IADS which were acquired between 1988 and 1993. Officials from Thales told MONCh during the ILA Air Show held in Berlin between 26 April and 29 April that the company will once more offer a GM-400 variant to satisfy this requirement. They continued that the Luftwaffe is currently deciding whether to procure a conventional ground-based air surveillance radar to satisfy this requirement, or instead to procure a radar which retains the capability to assist Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD). Should the Luftwaffe choose the latter option, Thales has stated that it will supply the land-based variant of its SMART-L L-band naval surveillance radar, known as the SMART-L EWC, which retains the capability to detect such weapons. Two of these radars were ordered by the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (Royal Dutch Air Force) in 2015 and will be deployed domestically to assist BMD offering instrumented ranges of up to 1,080nm (2,000km).

Luftwaffe sources speaking to MONCh during ILA have stated that the German government could decide whether it wishes to procure a BMD radar, or conventional ground-based air surveillance radar by the end of the year. Following this, a decision could be made on the model of radar which will be acquired leading to the award of an acquisition contract in the 2019 to 2020 timeframe. An in-service date of between 2023 to 2025 is expected for the first radar, with the time lag between contract signature and the first system being declared operational as a result of the need to construct new infrastructure in the form of radar towers at the sites where these new radars will be situated.

In the land domain, the Heer plans an overarching acquisition of new radars with will support its deployed forces at a number of levels. The Taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem (TLVS) programme will see the acquisition of four new radars to support the German Army’s new MEADS (Medium Extended Air Defence System) which will provide theatre-level, high altitude ground-based air defence. Thales is planning to offer both its Ground Master-200 108nm (200km) instrumented range S-band radar outfitted with an active electronically scanned array and its MMR (Multi-Mission Radar), also an S-band system, which has an instrumented range of 54nm (100km). Once the German government selects a radar to fulfil the TLVS requirement, deliveries could follow in the 2019 with one radar being delivered each year.

Beyond the TLVS radar acquisition, the German Army will take delivery of a total of 14 radars as part of the NNBS initiative which will enhance very short-range air defence for the ground manoeuvre force. Once again, Thales will offer both the GM-200 and MMR as options. Government plans call for an initial batch of four radars to commence delivery in circa 2022, with one radar being delivered per year. Finally, the LŰR programme will see the acquisition of three new radars to support the ground-based air defence of deployed fixed sites from 2021.

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