Newsletters - Volume 55
GM400 - The Latest Mobile Device: Apps Included!
Written by MWO Vaughan Curnew, DAEPM R&CS
With a designation of GM400, one could be forgiven for thinking this is the latest consumer electronics gadget from Silicon Valley or something out of Motor City. But don't set your current device aside just yet in hopes of picking up one of these gizmos! Possessing this latest technological offering is reserved for only a select few, indeed a very exclusive team! In this instance the term "mobile device" might be more fully appreciated with a comparison: scale an iPhone or Blackberry up 65,000 times, to the size of a 20 foot ISO container, attach a price tag proportional to that scale, and you have the latest in tactical mobile air surveillance radar that only a lucky few will be sporting in DND.
The GM400, more appropriately known as the Ground Master 400 series mobile radar, is the first fully digital radar on the market and in Jan 2011, the MND, Hon. Peter Mackay, announced Canada's purchase of two GM403s from Thales Canada to replace the aging fleet AN/TPS-70 Tactical Control Radars (TCRs). These new radar will be provided to and subsequently deployed out of 12 ER Bagotville and 42 Rdr Sqn Cold Lake.
Produced in Limours, France by the ThalesRaytheonSystems Group, Canada is one of a number of countries having recently acquired the GM400 series of radars. The Canadian model, a GM403, is a highly mobile 3-D air surveillance radar designed to detect targets up to 100,000-ft in altitude and to a range of 390km and possesses the capability to track the entire spectrum of known threats; from terrain hugging tactical aircraft, to minimal radar cross-sectioned air breathing threats such as cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Notable features of the radar include antenna pattern control through digital beam forming, stacked beams for maximum time on target and altitude discrimination, S-Band operation (2.9 to 3.3 GHz), two Doppler modes to overcome environmental conditions, Electronic Counter-Counter Measures (ECCM) and tactical ballistic missile (TBM) detection capability. All these features add up to make the GM403 a comprehensive sensor array capable of contending with virtually every known airborne threat.
For the technician, intelligent use of SMTP and a sophisticated web-based interface, combine to create an all inclusive maintenance suite which surpasses any system performance monitoring application previously fielded. The GM-403's fault and maintenance monitoring features provides instantaneous alerts on critical failures, advises the tech on lapsed and pending maintenance procedures and what components are nearing failure. The maintenance interface provides on screen instructions, diagrams, and a list of tools required for servicing the equipment. The intelligent integrated logistics support (ILS) feature tracks every replaceable component, including model and serial numbers, software and firmware versions, plus individual component histories. This provides the tech and LCMM with on-demand real-time trend analysis capability and configuration management. The GM403's modular configuration and engineered redundancies is designed to contend with component degradation to ensure the radar remains fully mission capable, with minimal supervision and no unintended downtime.
The GM403 is only one aspect of the TCR modernization effort. TCR upgrade will include integration of a modern Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR) Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) capability, enhanced command and control systems, new Air-Ground-Air radios, improved SatCom configuration, greater Link 1/11/16 capability and the ability to quickly reconfigure to operate in a synthetic environment. In short this adds up to a versatile and agile C2 asset designed for today's Air Force. The TCR modernization project is a complete package and will exceed Air Force demands for the foreseeable future, wherever and whenever its services may be required.
Awarding of the contract was the result of a competitive bid among industry leaders and the culmination of a five year effort to develop a comprehensive specification designed to address current and future roles of the TCR. ADM(Mat) DGAEPM R&CS is responsible for the TCR Project Management and consists of the following team members: Maj Paul Guy (PM), MWO Vaughan Curnew (ISSO), Ms. Marie Kiropoulos (TCR Proj O), Mr. Gary Larin (Comms), Mr. Cletus Power (TCR SME), Mr. Terry Herman (IFF), Mr. Pat McAuley (LHCN) and last but not least, the original radar tech, former 231 Rdr Tech CM, (CWO Ret'd) John Moore (Infrastructure and ILS). An honourable mention also goes out to the Project Director, Maj Stephen Costello who did an extraordinary job getting the Modernization project through the numerous 'wickets' to final approval.
Image courtesy of Thales
GM-400 Series Ground Based Transportable Air Defence Radar