The expression ‘Tactical Radars’ implies a military function and in fact such radars have been around on warships and in military aircraft almost since the birth of radar but a new emphasis is being placed on this expression. Landbased radars are either static, which usually implies they have a strategic value, self-propelled, demountable or towed in a trailer. These are a mixed lot used variously to detect hostile aircraft, missiles or mortars. Then some years ago frequency modulated carrier wave (FMCW) emitters appeared and having a very low power output during their use, they gave the user additional protection against electronic warfare (EW) equipped aggressors. It was not long before man-portable FMCW systems appeared. Indeed some employed alternative complex waveforms such as noise modulation and a few, mainly in Russia, appeared on tanks and armoured personnel vehicles.
Recently the Israeli Defence Force’s (IDF) Ground Forces have issued a requirement, to Israeli and International radar manufacturers, for a radar with a range of 10km, a weight of no more than 10kg and a power consumption of 10W or less. This seemingly has been interpreted as a 'Tactical Radar' and initially the RADA Electronics company in Israel appeared to be well placed by having its new IRONFIST solution installed on an IDF tank for trials. IRONFIST is a different approach to the norm for it does not use a mechanical scanning antenna array but employs a static set, in this case using 4 or 8 miniature phased arrays. The emphasis is to give IDF ground forces greater mobility that has previously been limited with scanning systems, particularly of the man-portable variety.
Currently RADA has developed a series of these tactical radars, which is the expression given to the individual mini phased arrays. Known formally as either Compact Hemispheric Radar (CHR) or Hemispheric Multi-mission Radar (HMR). They are digital systems with software defined capabilities and as such offer tremendous flexibility from a single-array arrangement that a soldier can carry and use on the move, to more complex solutions such as IRONFIST, which is designed to protect tanks, or any other high value operational field vehicle, from common weapons on a modern battlefield.
Whilst this is not the first time that such a system has been developed for soldiers on the move, for example the Russians produced the 111L1 BARSUK system some years ago, but RADA’s solution appears to be a real quantum leap for this level of requirement. Whilst RADA seemed to be in a perfect position to gain a contract, Elbit is now preparing a challenging system that is claimed to identify and track autonomous and guided anti-tank weapons and there may yet be other undeclared possible solutions to the IDF request. Watch this space.