Electronic Weapons: August 27, 2003


Ground radar, used for spotting troops and vehicles, has been around for decades. But a new, lightweight, ground radar has proved exceptionally useful in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans. MSTAR (Man-Portable Surveillance and Target Acquisition Radar) weights 83 pounds and can be carried to a location by two men. It's effective range is from 50 to 52,000 meters. But accuracy depends on what it's looking at. A walking man can be identified at 12 kilometers, a small vehicle (a car or jeep) can be identified at 24 kilometers, a larger vehicle at 36 kilometers. An artillery shell impact can be accurately identified at 15 kilometers. Getting an accurate GPS location depends on range. At 15 kilometers, MSTAR will locate the target to within about 60 meters. A laptop computer, running the Windows operating system, is used to run the radar. The radar draws less than 75 watts and can be run off a generator or vehicle electrical system. Over 500 MSTAR systems are in use. A popular use is base security. In these cases, the MSTAR operators can carefully check out the area scanned for dead spots and reposition the radar to insure that there is no protected route intruders can use to avoid the radar.




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