MARINE CORPS ADDS REVISED FIREFINDER TO ITS ARSENAL
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Posted 10/21/98 06:26:39 PM ---
|Sgt. Jason Pearson, Headquarters Battery, 11th Marines, Camp Pendleton, lifts the sail of the Firefinder radar system while preparing to acquire a target. |
Photo by Sgt. Matt Olivolo
(high resolution photos attached at end of article.)
By Sgt. Matt Olivolo
MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. (Oct 21) -- Marine Corps adds revised Firefinder to its arsenal
Reshaping the battlefield with modern technology is a priority for Marines going into the 21st Century. With the use of computers, digital imagery and constant upgrades in radar technology, Marines will be able to respond to enemy fire even quicker now.
Thanks to the new AN/TPQ-46A counterfire radar system, known as the "Firefinder," Marines can seek out enemy fire by detecting, tracking and locating mortar, artillery and other high angle-of-attack projectiles over a range of 750 to 24,000 meters.
Earlier versions of the Firefinder used five-ton trucks to transport the radar system making it cumbersome and difficult to deploy. "With the new upgrades, the system is now transported by Humvees," explained CWO Ron Welsh, new equipment training officer, "making it more mobile and providing a faster response time for units who rely on radar support."
The new system is transported on four HMMWV's. One vehicle tows the actual radar trailer while another carries the generator. The third vehicle carries supplies. The fourth vehicle or the main vehicle, also known as the operations central shelter assembly, is the nucleus of the whole system.
The Firefinder was originally implemented into the Marine Corps system in May of 1979 with the AN/TPQ-36. Through upgrades and continual advancements in technology, the modern day AN/TPQ-46A is now being taught by Marines and civilian designers of the system, to Marines throughout the Fleet Marine Force. The latest version -- Version Eight -- will not reach Fleet Marine Forces until late December this year.
"Units from Camp Pendleton, Camp Lejeune and Okinawa have sent representatives to us to go through the FMF familiarization training with the revised radar system," Welsh said. "They need to be familiar with the new system to assist the fielding team as they hand off the system to individual units."
The individual Marines are being taught at the Maintenance Center.
"This system will lead us into the next millennium," Welsh said. "The upgrades from previous versions of the Firefinder are unquestionable."
There are several enhancements on the new system. One of those is the Modular Azimuth Positioning System (MAPS). "This gives the operator the ability to locate himself and provide a direction or grid azimuth without having to rely on Battalion or Regimental surveyors," explained Welsh.
Another advancement over versions five and seven are "remote operations using the Control Display Terminal ," Welsh said. "The CDT allows the operator to control the system from outside the shelter [vehicle] up to 100 meters away, which increases our survivability since the radar is an active emitter which make it susceptible to anti-radiation missiles."
"A Digital Terrain Elevation Database [DTED] enables the operator to use a digital map, instead of using a paper map," he explained. "The digital map extrapolates the elevation of the hostile weapons location automatically, instead of the operator having to interpolate the elevation off of the paper map."
Once a target is acquired, the information is then sent digitally to the Target Processing Center (TPC) located at the regimental headquarters. After the information reaches the TPC, it is then determined what weapon system will be used to provide counter battery fire.
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