Big improvements for Tactical Air Defence Radar System

A No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit AN/TPS-77 Tactical Air Defence Radar System on display during a unit family day held at RAAF Base Darwin, NT.

Industry and Defence have worked together to successfully upgrade the ageing fleet of Tactical Air Defence Radar Systems (TADRS).
The upgrade has delivered several notable improvements for RAAF air surveillance operators: Improved radar performance and reliability, removal of hydraulic safety hazards, improved supportability, and a more agile and safe deployment capability.
Four of the radar systems are operated and maintained by No. 3 Control and Reporting Unit (3CRU) and No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit (114MCRU). 
The Surveillance and Control Logistics Management Unit’s commanding officer, Wing Commander Nick Grey, said it was critical for Defence and industry to work together.
“The success of this program was made possible by the close and trusting relationship developed between Lockheed Martin Australia Electronic Systems, the Surveillance and Control Systems Program Office, the operational units, and HQ 41 Wing,” Wing Commander Grey said.
Lockheed Martin Australia was awarded the contract to deliver the TADRS Block 3 Upgrade Project in 2014.
This was the first modification of its type to be completed outside of the Lockheed Martin Corporation facility in the United States.  The final RAAF TADRS was successfully modified by late 2018.
Lockheed Martin senior project manager Andrew Van De Ven said the company engaged a number of small-to-medium businesses to fabricate and deliver specialist products. 
“This action has nurtured our local industry relationships and provided opportunities for smaller Australian businesses to prove their technology and manufacturing skills in a military environment,” Mr Van De Ven said.
“The offset benefit for Defence is a lower cost and shorter turnaround for supply of parts that are maintained and sustained within the local community.”
The executive officer of 41 Wing’s headquarters, Wing Commander Clinton Morris, said 114MCRU and 3CRU worked collaboratively with the program.
“By working together, we minimised the impact to operational activities and ensured the timely training of personnel on the new system,” Wing Commander Morris said.
The organisations also worked to overcome a number of unforeseen obstacles, including inclement weather that caused testing delays, finding specialised vehicles required to transport TADRS in and out of the modification facility, and even bushfires that restricted access to the TADRS.
Wing Commander Morris said the cooperation was exceptional, with the team recognised as finalists in the Australian Defence Magazine 2018 Essington Lewis awards.
“The real proof of the programs achievement lies in the operational output of the new system,” Wing Commander Morris said.
“Since the program started, the upgraded TADRS communication system has been successfully used to support Operations Spate and APEC Assist, as well as Exercise Pitch Black 2018, with excellent results.”

By Squadron Leader Karen Brown