Air Platforms

USMC takes delivery of first GaN G/ATOR

05 August 2018

Northrop Grumman has delivered the first US Marine Corps (USMC) AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) fitted with gallium nitride (GaN) radar technology.

The delivery of the latest variant of G/ATOR, marks the transition from gallium arsenide (GaAs) transmit and receive (T/R) modules to the advanced GaN T/R modules, which improve system performance and reliability.

G/ATOR is an expeditionary, three-dimensional, short- to medium-range multirole S-band radar system designed to detect low-observable, low-radar cross-section targets such as rockets, artillery, mortars, cruise missiles, and unmanned aircraft systems.

G/ATOR is designed to replace five ageing and legacy radars: the AN/UPS-3 Tactical Defense Alert system, the AN/MPQ-62 continuous-wave acquisition radar, the AN/TPS-63 air surveillance radar, the AN/TPQ-46 counter-battery/target acquisition radar, and the AN/TPS-73 air traffic control system.

A G/ATOR radar at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, in February 2018. ((Lance Corporal Ethan Pumphret, USMC))A G/ATOR radar at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, in February 2018. ((Lance Corporal Ethan Pumphret, USMC))

The USMC took delivery of six low rate initial production (LRIP) GaAs radars in early 2017, with two of these used for the programme’s initial operational capability (IOC) of the air surveillance mission in February 2018. The remaining four systems will establish IOC for the counter-battery mission later this year, Northrop Grumman said in a statement.

All subsequent G/ATOR LRIP and full rate production systems will now incorporate GaN. The full rate production programme is scheduled to begin in early 2019, the company said.

The transition from GaAs to GaN T/R modules is seamless for the radar operator, a spokesperson for the USMC Program Executive Office Land Systems, told Jane’s.

Additionally, the manufacturing and test processes for GaAs and GaN are virtually identical, Mark Smith, director, business development, mission systems sector for Northrop Grumman, told Jane’s .

“We have been building both GaAs and GaN devices here for G/ATOR for over five years,” Smith noted. “For example, we first tested our GaN devices on G/ATOR in late 2010. So, both GaAs and GaN devices and their manufacturing processes for G/ATOR are mature and proven.”

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