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Next generation radar technology

By Hans-Jochen Sölter
Senior Strategy, Marketing & Business Development Manager, Thales Deutschland

The TLVS programme is currently entering a decisive phase. As part of many years of contributing to TLVS Thales Deutschland has submitted an offer for medium range radar (MRS) to the responsible Joint Venture.
The TLVS medium range sensor is firstly responsible for the fire control of the secondary missile and must integrate seamlessly with the overall system. Programme aspects, such as national sovereignty and regulations from the MEADS history must also be taken into account. Market availability is also desirable to minimise technical and programme-related risks.

Optimal fire control for TLVS secondary missile

The excellent suitability of the Thales GM200 MM/C as medium range sensor in combination with the IRIS-T SL has already been demonstrated in 2016 (risk mitigation). Ongoing investigations from last year attest to the sensor’s highest accuracy in this radar class.

The radar has a modern AESA technology (Active Electronically Scanned Array) implemented in gallium nitride and operates in the S band. This permits rotating and stationary operating modes with high flexibility and data repeat rates up to < 1s. The range from a small aerial target is >130 kilometres, the instrumented range is up to 400 kilometres. The pallet with the GM200 MM/C, power generator and cooling represents an autonomous system and can also be operated without a vehicle.

The compact design of the radar with its low weight has numerous benefits when transported on a truck or loaded as air cargo. The operationally required times for “getting into position” and for dismantling are fallen well below (< 5 minutes), because the electronically stabilised antenna does not require mechanical support. This permits the potentially tactically required rapid vacation of a position contrary to systems with extendible hydraulic supports.

The modular design of the GM200 MM/C, the AESA technology, the inclusion within a Thales S band radar platform family and the advanced digitisation of the radar (fully programmable) facilitate considerable growth potential in all areas.

No risks during the project and utilisation phase

The GM200 MM/C is currently being purchased by the Dutch armed forces, is currently in series production and thus offers a unique flexibility for meeting the TLVS schedule. In addition, a prototype has already been successfully trialled since 2016. Thus the GM200 MM/C is the only product in this class which has both a prototype and serial contract, is produced in series and therefore justifiably considered a military off-the-shelf product.

The design of the GM200 MM/C fully reflects the system requirements of TLVS/ MEADS in relation to deployment, networking (“plug-and-fight”), transport and mobility. The system is ITAR-free and can therefore be used without export restrictions by the Federal Armed Forces over its entire life cycle.

National sovereignty and MEADS conformity

Thales Deutschland has its own radar development and production with the corresponding technical and management personnel and TLVS-relevant know-how. Together with an accreditation for highest classification levels all project requirements regarding “German Eyes Only” or the MEADS provisions can be complied with. The company thus fully guarantees as a local partner the required national sovereignty.

In particular during service and maintenance of radars for the air force Thales has demonstrated with its service area in Koblenz within the ARED programme (ground master) its capability and customer focus over many years. A significant German added value is also being implemented by Thales Deutschland beyond the system support during use.
Economy through multiple use, cooperation and family concept

The completed development and ongoing series production of the GM200 MM/C result in an attractive value for money for the TLVS. In addition the radar is part of a complete product family and the GM22 MM/C and its users also benefit from further developments during all phases of procurement and utilisation.

The Thales GM200 MM/C is suitable for medium range radar applications in two additional programmes of the air force – NNbS and MANTIS surveillance radar. Here the compact system design permits loading on better protected vehicles, such as DINGO or BOXER -– the ability to be flown on C130J during a sortie is another unique feature. Furthermore, the GM200 MM/C is especially predestined for the German/Dutch cooperation in ground to air defence.