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U.S. Air Force long-range radar systems reach full operational capability

By Ryan Maass
U.S. Air Force long-range radar systems reach full operational capability
The AN/FPS-117, shown here in Alaska, is a 3-D radar system that provides advanced warning and air traffic surveillance. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Upgraded AN/FPS-117 long-range radar systems for the U.S. Air Force were deemed effective and certified, the Air Force announced on Wednesday.

The AN/FPS-117 is an active electronically scanned array 3-D radar system developed by Lockheed Martin, which provides advanced warning and air traffic surveillance. Upgrades to the system were done through the Essential Parts Replacement Program, which gave a boost to the system's maintenance and control, beacon, power supply, communications, and local control terminal systems.

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Program officials also report the upgrades reduce maintenance time on the radar. Capt. Nicholas Cusolito, a former program manager, says the replacement program has helped the AN/FPS-117 stay up to date.

"Prior to the EPRP modification, the radars, which were originally installed in the 1980s, suffered from excessive parts obsolescence and diminishing manufacturing sources," Cusolito said in a statement. "The focus of the program was to eliminate many of the obsolete components in the radar and to ensure continued supportability through 2025 to meet NORAD mission objectives."

Capt. Cusolito added hardware modifications will also allow further modifications to improve the radar's identification capability, known as Mode 5. More than 25 radar systems have been upgraded.

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