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TPQ-53 Development, Testing and Delivery

Developing a new solid state, active electronically scanned array radar like the TPQ-53 normally takes years of development. The AN/TPQ-53 was developed in significantly less time than a typical radar program due in part to the strong design and test foundations laid by a prototype system, known as the Multi-Mission Radar / Advanced Technology Objective (MMR/ATO).

From 2002 to 2006, the MMR/ATO was thoroughly tested at Yuma and White Sands Proving Grounds and confirmed the design concept was sound not only for meeting the counterfire target acquisition requirements, but also the ability of the same radar to perform other missions such as air surveillance with little if any hardware modifications.

Using the successful capability proven by MMR/ATO, Lockheed Martin won the contract to develop the TPQ-53 and started work in January 2007. Throughout 2007, Lockheed Martin’s ability to stay ahead of schedule allowed the U.S. Army to satisfy an urgent Operational Need Statement from the U.S. Army and accelerated plans for fielding the new system. By mid-2008, the Army awarded Lockheed Martin a contract for 12 Initial Production (IP) systems to be built in parallel with the completion of the development program.

In July 2009-- less than 30 months after award, Lockheed Martin delivered the first of the development systems and an extensive testing program began. This comprehensive program incorporated several phases of contractor and Army testing. The live-fire performance testing portion alone involved more than 20,000 rounds of live rocket, mortar, and artillery ammunition used in a wide range of test scenarios and conditions. Lessons learned from the test program were analyzed, and design improvements were incorporated into the IP systems in a controlled fashion that did not sacrifice cost or delivery schedule.

In mid-2010, again encouraged by Lockheed Martin’s ability to maintain cost and schedule of the IP system production, the Army awarded a second IP contract for 20 more systems. By the end of 2010, LM was beginning to deliver the first 12 IP systems to Army units who trained on them and ultimately deployed to theater with them. Starting with that contract, the system design was updated to incorporate an armored cab.

The systems have worked extremely well in combat, in many cases exceeding the initial goals of the program. Experience and data gained from the combat environment are further analyzed and used to improve future systems’ reliability, performance, and user needs while maintaining overall program cost and schedule.