Electronic Weapons: February 25, 2005

Archives

Another expensive Cold War era system is finally being retired. In this case, its a radar (the AN/FPS-118 Over-The-Horizon-Backscatter Radar), which was built to detect aircraft (Russian bombers carrying nuclear bombs and missiles) 3,000 kilometers away. After fifteen years of research, two of these systems were built in the late 1980s. They came online just as the Cold War ended. Total cost of the project has been about $1.5 billion. The Oregon radar was mothballed after one year of operation, while the one in Maine continued to operate for a few years to see if it could be of any use in detecting narcotics smugglers. This didnt work out, and the Maine facility was mothballed as well. This meant that the system could be put back into working order in about 24 months. Finally, it was decided that the two radars would never see much use, and have been ordered dismantled. This will be a big job, as each radar system consists of about five kilometers of tall metal transmitters/receivers, plus support and operator facilities. Each radar puts out about a megawatt of energy when in use. New technologies, particularly satellite based, has also contributed to making the backscatter radars obsolete. 

The speed with which technology advances, and makes older stuff obsolete, has increased over the last decade. Big budget projects, with long development times, are increasingly at risk. This is particularly the case when electronics are involved. In the case of the Backscatter radar, smaller, portable, systems have since been developed as well. One reason backscatter radars are still useful is because they can detect most current stealth aircraft. 

 


Article Archive

Electronic Weapons: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close