Artillery types

The AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder radar is the anti-artillery system that the United States sends to Ukraine

More help on the way

Last week, President Biden committed the United States to another $800 million in additional military aid. The timing is good as the Russians appear to be gearing up for another major offensive into beleaguered Ukraine. The latest package includes 10 AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder Weapon Locator Radar Systems such as the one pictured below.

The compact, mobile, battle-proven AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder quickly and automatically locates medium-range enemy mortars, artillery, and rocket launchers. Image credit:

Radar systems will help defend Ukrainian military personnel and civilians from rocket and artillery attacks, historically the deadliest threat to Ukrainian personnel and civilians.

The AN/TPQ-36 is a mobile radar system developed by Hughes Aircraft Company and manufactured by Northrop Grumman and ThalesRaytheonSystems. It is a highly mobile short-range radar that can locate mortars, artillery, and rockets with the precision of this weapon system. Not exactly new technology, the AN/TPQ-36 was originally developed in the 1970s and fielded in the early 1980s. There are several variants of this radar system, and it has not been announced which variant we will send to the Ukrainians.

Video footage courtesy of YouTube and Crux.

The AN/TPQ-36 is a weapons-locating radar designed to detect and track incoming mortar, artillery, and rocket fire to determine the point of origin of counter-battery fire. It is typically used by battalions and higher level units. We have supplied some of these systems to Ukraine in the past, and they are very familiar with how they work.

The system weighs 2,500 pounds and its operator shelter is transported either by a high-mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicle or a 2.75-ton truck, which can be located up to 50 meters from the antenna-transmitter assembly. – unmanned receiver. In addition, the system is capable of operating remotely up to 100 meters from the shelter. It is usually located near the forward battle line in direct support of brigade operations.

The set-up time for the system to be operational is 15 minutes. If necessary, the downtime to disable the radar is said to be 5 minutes (or less if highly motivated, ie, incoming hits on your position).

The details

The stationary AN/TPQ-36 antenna sweeps a rapid sequence of beams along the horizon, forming an electronic radar curtain over a 90 degree area. Any target entering the curtain triggers an immediate verification beam. Upon verifying the target, an automatic tracking sequence begins. While tracking a single target, the radar continues to scan, locate and monitor others. It can locate and track 10 airborne weapons simultaneously.

The radar unit is electronically steered, which means that the radar antenna itself does not move during operation. However, the antenna can be moved manually if necessary. Additionally, the system offers a “friendly fire” mode to determine the accuracy of counter-battery fire or to perform radar registration or mean point of impact calibrations for friendly artillery. He is also able to predict the impact area of ​​hostile projectiles.

Radar Capabilities

  • Maximum detection range of 24 km
  • 18 km effective mortar detection range
  • 14.5 km effective artillery detection range
  • 24 km rocket detection range

A defensive posture

Speaking in general terms about this latest military aid package, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said:

“We were committed from the start, even before the invasion, to help Ukraine defend itself. This is a piece of that. And this is representative of the kind of capabilities the Ukrainians themselves have asked for and said they need as this fighting now focuses on the eastern part of the country.

SOFREP remains dedicated to keeping you informed of the latest developments in Ukraine and US efforts to help you.

If you enjoyed this article, consider supporting our veteran editorial by becoming a SOFREP subscriber. Click here to join SOFREP now for only $0.50/week.