Air Defense: The All-Seeing Giraffe


October 5, 2015: Swedish Giraffe AMB (Agile Multi-Beam) radars are again being upgraded. In this case Britain is spending $74 million on mods that will improve the reliability and performance of its Giraffe systems. Giraffe is so named because the land based versions use a 13 meter (43 foot) folding mast that, when extended, gives the radar more height and thus more range. But the main attraction of Giraffe is its ability to track low-flying aircraft and cruise missiles as well as provide early warning (20 seconds or more) for rocket attacks. This last capability has been used as a key part of anti-rocket systems. Australia pioneered this use of Giraffe in Afghanistan.

Giraffe first appeared in 1977 and nearly 500 have been manufactured so far. There are eight major variants, including two for small warships. The land based version (including the folding mast) can be carried in a 6x6 truck. Range varies between 100 and 350 kilometers and max altitude from 6,000 meters (20,000 feet) to 20,000 meters (66,000 feet). The Giraffe electronics are designed to operate in cluttered (hilly) environments and to detect small aircraft. Giraffe is also able to handle jamming and other countermeasures well.


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