Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, a global security company that provides systems, products, and solutions to government and commercial customers worldwide, presented its new AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar or G/ATOR at a receiving ceremony March 29, 2017, at its facility in Baltimore.
The ceremony included presentations by lead project managers from both Grumman and the Marine Corps, a tour of the facility and a presentation of the G/ATOR system.
It marks the day the Marine Corps takes possession of the first factory built model of the G/ATOR System, according to Chief Warrant Officer 5 William Kelly, a G/ATOR project officer.
“This system puts the Marine Corps, for the first time, above our sister services in technology,” said Kelly.
G/ATOR is the first air cooled, mobile, Active Electronically Scanned Array radar in the Marine Corps’ arsenal. In comparison to other AESA radars, which use liquid cooling, the G/ATOR is lighter and more transportable.
The new G/ATOR system provides multi-faceted detection and tracking capabilities to engage a wide range of hostile threats, as well as offering air traffic control capabilities.
The system is replacing five existing Marine Corps single-mission radars known as legacy systems and is capable of performing multi-mission tasks at lower operation and maintenance costs.
“Not only is it easier to set up, in-place, displace, and move, but mobility-wise it’s what the Marines are focusing on when they are employing this system,” Kelly said. “It’s much more mission oriented compared to my legacy systems. There’s just a huge difference with this, it puts us on the cutting edge of technology.”
The G/ATOR is going to bring game changing capabilities as a sensor to the entire Marine Air-Ground Task Force, said Col. Matthew Culbertson, from Headquarters Marine Corps Department of Aviation.
“What it really provides us is a modern sensor, that has great agility, that we can employ from the high end fight down to the Marine Expeditionary Unit level, and when you combine this with everything else that the MAGTF is doing in order to become a fifth generation MAGTF, it sort of brings it all together,” Culbertson said.
Beginning as just a draft in the early 2000s, the G/ATOR was approved for production in 2014 and began low-rate initial production in the first quarter of fiscal year 2015. Taking 28 months to build just one unit, the Marine Corps intend to field a total 45 units to support the Aviation Combat Element as well as the artillery units with the Ground Combat Element.
“We are grateful to Northrop Grumman and their team for what they’ve done and PEO (Program Executive Officer) Land Systems and their team in terms of fielding this capability,” Culbertson said. “It takes a lot to bring it all together and that’s not lost on Gen. Davis, the Deputy Commandant for Aviation, so he is very grateful.”
The final operational capability, when the last unit is delivered, is scheduled for early 2024.