Serbia’s new French Thales GM400 Alpha mobile radar systems now operational

Serbia’s new French Thales GM400 Alpha mobile radar systems now operational

As reported by Politika on February 12, 2024, the Serbian Army’s 126th Air Surveillance, Signaling, and Guidance Brigade (VOJIN) recently deployed two Thales Ground Master 400 Alpha (GM400α) mobile radar systems. The GM400 series, including the GM400α, is widely used globally, with over 100 units operational in more than 15 countries.

The placement of these radars, which recently arrived in Serbia, in the Srem Plain near Stari Banovci, a suburban settlement in the Stara Pazova municipality, represents a strategic move within the region of Syrmia (Syrmia District) in the southern Vojvodina province. Over time, the Srem Plain, considered an important position by the Serbian Army, has been equipped with radar systems of various origins, including Soviet, British, and American.

Colonel Jovica Kepčija, commander of the 126th VOJIN brigade, noted the significance of acquiring these radars after a prolonged period without equipment upgrades. These radar systems aim to enhance Serbia’s air surveillance and reporting capabilities. According to Colonel Kepčija, the GM400α can detect various aircraft types, including those with small reflective surfaces, at distances exceeding 500 kilometers and altitudes surpassing 30 kilometers. For him, this deployment signifies Serbia’s endeavor to maintain its position as a regional leader in radar capabilities.

The integration process involves meticulous procurement and training procedures, including factory and location reception phases. Presently, one radar is operational in Stari Banovci, with another undergoing location reception procedures. Colonel Kepčija also revealed the imminent delivery of several GM200 medium-range radars, also from Thales, and highlighted the importance of automation systems for VOJIN centers, developed and implemented by domestic experts.

Additionally, the radar systems feature warnings in Serbian Cyrillic script alongside English. Lieutenant Marko Manojlović highlighted the radar’s capabilities, including resilience against jamming and precise coordination between targets, beneficial for fighter aircraft guidance. These radar systems operate round-the-clock with minimal manpower requirements, with only two operators needed per shift.

The Ground Master 400α (GM400α) is a mobile radar system recently introduced by ThalesRaytheonSystems (TRS), a joint venture between Thales and Raytheon. It is an upgrade from its predecessor, the Ground Master 400 (GM400), featuring enhanced detection capabilities and operational efficiency.

The GM400 series, including the GM400α, has been widely adopted globally, with more than 100 units in operation across more than 15 countries. The GM400α offers improved performance due to increased processing power, therefore maintaining the Ground Master series’ presence in the global radar market.

The GM400α is designed to detect various targets, including low-altitude, slow-moving, small, and highly maneuvering threats. Its mobility on a single truck enables quick deployment and repositioning to adapt to changing operational needs.

Similar to the GM400, the GM400α is proficient in simultaneous detection across high, medium, and low altitudes, making it suitable for tracking unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and fighter jets. It supports both Mode S and Mode 5 interrogations, providing comprehensive airspace coverage. Deployability and survivability are emphasized in the GM400α’s design. It can transition between fixed and mobile configurations seamlessly and is equipped with integrated decoys for enhanced survivability in hostile environments, while its software-defined architecture allows for continuous updates, adapting to emerging threats and enhancing defense against cyber attacks.

With an instrumented range of 515 kilometers, a ceiling coverage of up to 100,000 feet, and an elevation span of 40 degrees, the GM400α offers extensive air surveillance capabilities. It features a 6-second update rate, S-Band with GaN technology, digital stacked beam functionality, a windfarm filter, and AI-powered algorithms.

The system includes rapid deployment capabilities, with operational readiness achievable in under an hour. Its operational availability exceeds 98.5%, and it offers reliable performance with minimal maintenance requirements, including a mean time between critical failures (MTBCF) of 3,500 hours for fixed installations and 3,000 hours for mobile setups, coupled with a mean time to repair (MTTR) of less than 30 minutes, totaling just 30 hours annually.

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