A Radar for All Missions
The G/ATOR will replace five older Marine Corps systems
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
(AESA), which benefited from development of the APG-81 AESA
radar for the F- 35 Lightning II
Joint Strike Fighter.
The AESA radar rotates to provide
360-degree coverage, said Jeff Palombo, vice president and general
manager for land forces programs at
Northrop Grumman. Even while stationary and scanning in one direction, it can focus separate beams on
“If the radar is spinning and it
identifies a threat, it can send the beam to linger on
that threat,” he said.
The UPX- 44 IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) System,
built by Telephonics in Farmingdale, N.Y., is installed in
The G/ATOR’s Power Equipment Group that includes
a generator to provide electrical power for the system is
mounted on the truck that tows the radar trailer. A third
component, the Communications Equipment Group, is a
High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (
Humvee)-mounted palletized communications system that transmits radar data to a command-and-control center.
The Marine Corps is developing the Common Aviation
Command-and-Control System that in the future will
receive and analyze the data feed from the G/ATOR.
The entire system can be airlifted into an operational
site by three CH-53E Super Stallion heavy-lift helicopters or MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, or by a single C-
130 transport aircraft. The system is required to be set
up on-site within 45 minutes.
“We will be able to set up that system as designed in
less than 30 minutes,” Palombo said.
The G/ATOR will replace five legacy radar systems
currently in Marine Corps service: the TPS- 63 (air
defense), TPS-73 (air-traffic control), MPQ- 62 (
short-range air defense), TPQ- 46 (counter-fire target acquisition) and UPS- 3 (target tracking).
The G/ATOR will provide the Marine Corps with a mobile multimission
expeditionary radar system.
■ The three-vehicle system is transportable by three helicopters.
■ Active electronically scanned array was developed from modern airborne radar designs.
■ G/ATOR may satisfy radar needs for the Air Force and Army.
The Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar (G/ATOR), designed for the Marine Corps as an expeditionary multimission radar, is going
through system and integration testing and heading for
a planned initial operational capability (IOC) in 2016.
The TPS-80 G/ATOR, which is intended to replace five
older radar systems, also is showing potential to adapt
to the requirements of a long-range radar system under
competition for the Marine Corps and Air Force.
Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems in Baltimore
has built two production-standard G/ATOR prototypes
and is testing them in the environs of Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport,
which provides plenty of air-tracking opportunities.
One set was built with Marine Corps funding, the other
was built with Northrop Grumman team funding to
support integration and testing.
G/ATOR is designed to detect and track targets ranging
from manned and unmanned aircraft to cruise missiles to
projectiles from mortars, artillery and rocket launchers.
The G/ATOR system’s major components include
the Radar Equipment Group — the radar antenna and
its rotating drive system — mounted on a trailer that
can be towed by a truck. The flat-screen antenna array
lies flat for transport and is erected for operational use.
The antenna includes hundreds of transmit/receive
modules for the active electronically scanned array