The brigade's ideal radar

I have had some test-proven clue about electrical circuits and I have (had?) some test-proven clue about physics, but I'm nowhere near being a radar engineer or physicist with expertise on radio waves. Thus whenever I wonder if a certain radar could be take on some extra mission I depend on existing radars as proof of concept. 

To look at wavelengths (radar bands) doesn't really help. Most often the extra roles I think about aren't being ruled out by the short form descriptions of wavelengths and radar bands (and the multitude of radar band systems as well as the interchangeable use of wavelength and frequency is quite confusing).

For example, a strike fighter radar can do all radar jobs needed by the pilot, so why would a frigate need more than one radar? I can't really tell if it's a necessity to have a range of radars mounted on such platforms until some such platform actually does its job with less or even but one radar.

Well, one such interesting multi mode radars appeared in the public three years ago; the Swedish Giraffe 4A.

It's certainly not as optimised as specialised radars can be, but it appears to be capable of air search, air defence fire control (certainly good enough for missiles that have an autonomous seeker) and, apparently, it can detect and measure incoming (and thus also outgoing) artillery munitions.
The latter is a rare combination with the former two functions, and the combination of modern computing electronics, software and active electronically scanned antenna enables a (again likely not optimal) parallel function in all three modes.

The rotation (which can be switched off) may be a limiter for the artillery detection mission, since the normal way to detect hostile firing artillery and mortars is to scan the horizon for climbing mortar bombs, shells and rockets all the time. This cannot be done when the antenna is rotated away, which means there's a short time window in which detection of artillery ammunitions is unlikely.

That aside, this radar system strikes me as a most promising 'brigade radar' system. It cannot do ground surveillance, but that can and should be separated anyway, for such radars have to expose themselves to hostile passive radars much more than air defence and counter-arty radars by definition.*

One such radar in operation would suffice to support a battalion battlegroup with air threat warning, artillery and mortar strike warning, detection of hostile artillery and mortars, fire control for battlefield air defences, measurement of wind effects by measuring self-destructing shells/meteorological rockets & balloons. Two would be needed for leap-frogging, and a third would be needed to make this somewhat robust. Total quantity of radars needed per brigade could be 6-10, more if we assume a poor readiness of 70% or so due to fiscal and/or training neglect.

It's not affordable to provide a similarly robust radar support to a battalion battlegroup with specialised radars. Three air search radars, three air target fire control radars, three artillery radars and maybe two meteorological radars would not only require much more personnel and add many more vehicles to the roughly 100 motor vehicles of such a battalion battlegroup**; the procurement and training costs would also be huge. Nobody equips combat formations like that.

Three 15 ton 8x8 platforms with an ISO standard container that happens to be a multi-mode radar with its own power supply? That seems to be within reach for well-funded armies. Not all army brigades in NATO should spend on this, for some need to make do with tight budgeting, of course.


*: I suppose the perfect radar for impact measurement, synthetic aperture imaging and ground moving target detection as well as very low level helicopter detection should be mobile to elude dumb fires. See the Hovermast concept and the man-portable class of battlefield surveillance radars for this. The concept isn't new. AEG developed a tethered rotary drone in the 30's already. and a motor vehicle-less manned attempt for a tethered helicopter happened during the First World War already.
**: I strongly advise to keep the motor vehicle count low (not counting motorcycles and vehicles that don't march in the main column), in order to keep such a formation of manoeuvre agile. Clumsiness kills.


  1. So summarizing this and your earlier post about MRLs the ideal "fire support regiment" for brigade might have multimode radar battery, SPG battalion 3x8 guns and MRL battalion of 3x4 "ideal" rockets/missile launchers. SPG battalion takes care of maneuver battalions need of close fire support and MRL battalion handles shaping fires, AA, counter battery and massed fires at brigade Schwerpunkt fluidly switching roles on the go. AA role might require some of the lauchers to carry AA missiles 24/7 to maintain readiness. Artillery role would probably see some of the launchers carrying BONUS/DPICM type warheads for counter battery and the rest would carry dumb warheads to support the lead/shcwerpunkt battalion.

    1. 3x8 guns, 3x4 MRL?
      http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2016/10/battery.html !

      I wouldn't think of SPGs as "close support" only. And who knows, maybe the MRLs cannot meet an ground/ground arty mission at all.

      DPICM is outlawed and BONUS/SADARM/SMArt155 - not a big fan. 155 mm HE, SMK, IR-Illum. Tails exchangeable; boat tail and base bleed, few HE-ERGM-RAP. Also Vulcano 155 for rare long range PGM shots.

      Ideally, a battalion battlegroup would have its arty leap-frogging (minimum 1/3 available) and be able to call on base bleed shells from at least one other battalion battlegroup (not necessarily from same brigade).

    2. I have read that entry several times and know how you feel about the topic so not gonna touch that since we disagree. Also of the two of us there's a high chance that only one of us has served full time in artillery/mortars with sophisticated C2 and ADLER/equivalent.

      The close support mission is partially in light of your article on battlegroup fire support. Sure, if the SPG battalion is armed with 155/52 it can perform variety of mission, if it's 105mm the not that much can be achieved. Blame your local goverment for DPICM ban, Finland for god's sake isn't part of that.

      What would your ideal brigade level AA+artillery look like in light of what you've written recently?

    3. It depends on the country.
      The optimum for Romania differs greatly from the optimum for Germany.

      Regarding Finland and DPICM; I suppose 155 mm DPICM is a worse alternative compared to HE against targets in high 'roof' woodland?

    4. DPICMs would be most likely reserved for counter battery fires since HE can only do so much damage against 2S19.

    5. It's terribly easy to protect SPGs against the DPICM threat. Blast and fragmentation are negligible, and the shaped charge effect of DPICM can be eliminated with quickly-mounted spiky rubber mats.

      It would be foolish to trust DPICM for counter-SPG work (and no somewhat competent MRLs units are going to be caught by dumb counterfires other than by random bad luck).