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Pakistan Issues Tender for Radomes for TPS-77 MRR and YLC-18A

On 27 February 2020 and 11 March 2020, the Directorate of Procurement (Air) of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) released a tender for “the procurement of radomes for TPS-77 MRR and YLC-18A radars.” As of the March 2020 tender notice, the PAF expects implementation to start in three months of contract signing.

According to the 2017-2018 disclosure by the Pakistan Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP), the PAF ordered five YLC-18A ‘multi-role radars’ for $24.9 million US against the military’s development package for the year. The tender implies that the radomes (a structure that protects radars) are for new systems.

This is the first time the PAF publicly mentioned the TPS-77 MRR (Multi-Role Radar), but it is unclear if it is referring to new radars or its existing AN/TPS-77. Not only does the tender apply to a new radar system (i.e., the YLC-18A), but the TPS-77 MRR is the designation of a specific system, different from the AN/TPS-77 (of which the PAF already operates six systems in its integrated air defence system).

The TPS-77 MRR is a recent entry to Lockheed Martin’s product catalogue. Its active electronically scanned array (AESA) system uses gallium nitride (GaN)-based transceiver modules (TRM), which provide a range of 10-463 km and height coverage of up to 30.5 km (i.e., up to 100 kft).

Lockheed Martin markets the radar as a multi-mission solution, one the end-user can deploy as a gap filler radar, low level surveillance system, and maritime surveillance, among many other applications. The radar is mounted to a wheel-based transport, making it a mobile and re-deployable asset.

If the PAF is referring to the TPS-77 MRR in its tender, then the radome may suggest that it is for a fixed-position, which is how it uses at least some of its AN/TPS-77. This is the reason why it being in reference to existing systems is still a possibility, though one can argue that the PAF is referring to the new product.

One reason to accept the latter is that according to the 2017-2018 yearbook of the MoDP, the Directorate General of Defence Procurement (DGDP) listed the purchase of 10 low-level radars for $130 million US.

However, with nearly $1 billion US of partially disclosed orders from Italy and Germany in 2018, there are now three plausible sources from the which Pakistan ordered these low-level radars (Lockheed Martin, Hensoldt and Leonardo). In fact, there is also the possibility of Pakistan acquiring low-level radars through multiple suppliers, so as to create redundancies and multiple detection modes/frequencies.

Further Reading: Scans of the tenders from the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (Pakistan):

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