The US Army recently awarded Lockheed Martin three contracts to produce additional Q-53 systems and outfit the radar with enhanced capabilities, including extended range and counter unmanned aerial system (C-UAS) surveillance, the company announced on 5 August. The flexible architecture of the Army's most modern radar allows for these upgrades, which support adaptable growth of the system to address aircraft, drone and other threats in the future.
The primary mission of the Q-53 is to protect troops in combat by detecting, classifying, tracking and identifying the location of enemy indirect fire in either 90° or 360° modes. The Q-53 has protected troops around the world since 2010.
“We realize the warfighter needs new and improved capabilities. The Q-53 represents a fast path to respond to current and emerging threats,“ commented Director of the Q-53 Program at Lockheed Martin, Rick Herodes. “The flexibility of the architecture continues to allow the Q-53 to provide capabilities far beyond the original mission and allows for additional upgrades in the future.“
The first Army contract covered a third lot of 15 full-rate production systems. Once this contract is delivered, the Army will own 189 Q-53 systems. The Lot 3 systems will continue to be produced using gallium nitride (GaN) transmit-receive modules, which will provide the radar with additional power, reliability and the possibility for enhanced capabilities, including extended range, counterfire target acquisition (CTA) and multi-mission, which delivers simultaneous CTA and air surveillance.
A second contract aims at enhancing the Q-53's C-UAS capability. This true multi-mission capability delivers simultaneous counterfire, C-UAS and air surveillance.
The third Army contract will extend the operating range of the Q-53 system by using recent next-generation technology insertions already available in the radar.
Lockheed Martin uses an open GaN foundry model, leveraging relationships with commercial suppliers that use the power of the extensive telecommunications market to provide military-grade GaN modules while taking advantage of commercial cost efficiencies.