Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $79 million contract to provide L-88 (V)3 radar systems to the US Air Force Air Combat Command’s Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) along the southern border of the United States.
The acquisition of the L-88(V)3 radar is said to mark the next step in the Air Force’s program to improve effectiveness and efficiency of the TARS network. The L-88 family of radars, integrated with the 420,000-cubic-foot aerostat also developed by Lockheed Martin, is the standard system configuration selected by the Air Force for all TARS sites.
With its overlapping radar coverage, TARS reportedly supports air sovereignty and counterdrug operations conducted by North American Aerospace Defence Command, US Coast Guard and US Customs Air and Marine Interdiction Co-ordination Centre. TARS provides nearly continuous surveillance of the nation’s southern coastal and inland border from Puerto Rico to California.
Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics and Surveillance Systems (NE&SS)-Radar Systems, Akron, Ohio along with its radar engineering and production unit in Melbourne, Florida, serve as the system integrators for the TARS sites.
The Lockheed Martin team will build, install, test, and support the L-88(V)3 radar system which includes the airborne payload, the telemetry system, and radar control / monitoring console. The first radar will be delivered in late 2003.
The 420K aerostat has a helium volume of 420,000 cubic feet and was designed specifically to carry the L-88 radar. The L-88 radar connects to the underside of the aerostat and is enclosed by a fabric windscreen.
The 29-foot radar antenna rotates within the windscreen to provide 360-degree coverage at ranges to 200 nautical miles. The 420K aerostat has an aerodynamically shaped body that is 209 feet long and 69 feet in diameter at its widest point.