US Army C-12 Huron

The Lockheed Martin-developed Tactical Reconnaissance and Counter-Concealment-Enabled Radar (TRACER) has been deployed to operate onboard the US Army’s C12 Huron aircraft to support the US Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

Lockheed Martin IS&GS-Defense C4ISR Systems vice president Jim Quinn said the TRACER system will provide SOUTHCOM with unique actionable intelligence products around the clock and under all visibility conditions.

The radar, which has recently completed more than 160 flight tests on manned and unmanned platforms, is a low-frequency, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) capable of detecting objects that are buried, camouflaged or concealed to provide real-time, high-quality tactical ground imagery to the warfighter.

Developed for the US Army’s Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate (I2WD), the radar system replaces the existing foliage penetration (FOPEN) system, which is used specifically to detect vehicles, buildings, and large metallic objects in broad areas of dense foliage, forested areas and wooded terrain.

Apart from featuring FOPEN’s advanced detection capability to suppress background clutter, TRACER also incorporates low frequency dual band (UHF/VHF) ranges allowing detection through dense forest canopy and below ground to reveal positions of mobile and stationary targets.

The radar also incorporates data link technology that allows airborne processed results to be down-linked to portable ground stations immediately to plan, collect, support missions, and exploit imagery.

The penetrating detection capability on a persistent surveillance platform provides commanders at all levels with actionable intelligence in a tactical, useful timeline.

The FOPEN system was developed in the late 1990s under the sponsorship of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), US Army and US Air Force, and has completed more than 1,400 flights to date since operational in 2005.

Currently, around four qualified TRACER systems are available for deployment on manned or unmanned platforms.

Image: US Army’s Tactical Reconnaissance and Counter-Concealment-Enabled Radar equipped C12 Huron to support USSCOM missions. Photo: Lockheed Martin.