Saturday, December 9, 2023

Weapon Locating Radars: Recommendations for Pakistan Army

Weapon Locating Radars (WLRs) are used to locate the enemy artillery fire.  Weapon location system for pointing enemy artillery fire is an important asset for troops on the ground. The ability to locate the source of enemy fire holds obvious advantages for ground forces.

The technology behind weapon locating radar systems varies from radar-based arrays to acoustic/sound detection systems. Besides locating enemy fire, these radars are also helpful to guide own artillery units to target enemy positions accurately. A mortar locating radar provides quick identification to pinpoint enemy mortar positions in map coordinates, enabling artillery units to foil the enemy attacks and launch counterattacks. The basic tactic is to track a projectile for sufficient time to record the path of the trajectory. Some devices also use sound to locate the location of enemy mortar positions


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Radar Base System:

The system electronically, scans the horizon over a given sector several times a second, intercepting and automatically tracking hostile projectiles, then computing back along the trajectory to the Origin. The coordinates and altitude of the weapons site are then presented to the operator.


Sound Ranging Devices:

In Sound Ranging radars, Detection is carried out with the help of sound from enemy shells.

Example: Russia “AZK-7M” Automatic Sound Ranging System


Early Development of WLRs

Initially, sound-ranging tactics are used to locate the position of enemy mortars. Later on, radars were used. The first radars were developed for this purpose before WW-II by British and American companies to locate the enemy posts and reduce the causality rate on the battlefield.


WLRs of the Pak Army

Pakistan Army is operating two different types of radars to detect enemy mortars.


AN/TPQ-36 fire finder radar

  • This Radar is manufactured by the American company “Hughes Aircraft”, which is now called Raytheon.
  • Nine soldiers are required to operate this radar,
  • Range: 18 km (mortar), 14.5 (artillery)
  • Crew: 9



  • Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA)
  • Chinese Copy of TPQ-37
  • Range: 35-50 KMs
  • Crew: 6
  • Coverage: 90º


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Contemporary armies


  • Swathi Weapon Locating Radar
  • Made in India
  • Range: 50 KMs
  • Ability to track 7 targets at a single time
  • Deployed at LoC
  • Coverage: 45º
  • Crew: 6


PJT-531 BFSR (Short-Range)

  • Man-Portable
  • Battle-Field Surveillance Radar
  • Deployed at Indo-Pak Border & LoC
  • Made in India

Detection Range:

  • Crawling man: 700 m
  • Walking man: 3 km
  • Group of people: 7 lm
  • Light vehicles: 10 km
  • Heavy vehicles: 14 km


United States of America

  • AN/TPQ-36 fire finder radar
  • Manufactured by American company “Hughes Aircraft”, which is now called Raytheon
  • Range: 18 km (mortar), 14.5 (artillery)
  • Coverage: 90º
  • Crew: 9



  • Lightweight Counter-Mortar Radar (LCMR)
  • Range: 15 KMs
  • Coverage: 360º
  • Range: upto 20 KMs
  • Transports easily in challenging terrain



  • Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA)
  • This system is replacing the aging AN/TPQ-36 and AN/TPQ-37 medium range radars in US inventory
  • Range: up to 20 KMs
  • Crew: 5




  • Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA)
  • Chinese Copy of TPQ-37
  • Range: 35-50 KMs
  • Pakistan Army also procured this system from China




  • Portable Mortar locating radar
  • Range: 5 km (for mortar) Weight: 135 kg
  • Degree: 60º coverage
  • Crew: 3



  • Automatic Sound Ranging System
  • Intended to locate artillery batteries (guns) and mortars from the sound of gunfire
  • Crew: 5
  • Range: 5-8 km (for mortars), 12-16 (artillery guns)


United Kingdom


  • Mobile Artillery Monitoring Battlefield Radar
  • Originally developed by “Ericsson Microwave Systems” for Norway and Sweden as Artillery Hunting Radar
  • Range: 20 KMs
  • Operating Crew: 6


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US-origin Lightweight Counter-Mortar Radar LCMR scans full 360º and provides a point of impact and point of origin coordinates of incoming indirect fire. These radars are changing the spectrum of warfare. Due to a wider area of coverage, LCMR are much better than other radars in services with competing armies such as India, Russia, and China. In Modern battlefield situations, man-portal and lightweight radars are easier to operate rather than heavy and larger radars. Older types were mostly trailer mounted with a separate generator, so took 15-30 minutes to bring into action and need a larger crew.


Weapon Locating Radars are very useful for the detection of enemy fires and to target them by counter-battery fire. Detection of enemy fire can also reduce the causality rate in the battlefield. In terms of technology, a man-portable and that radar that provides 360° coverage is very crucial for Pakistan. The latest trend is to combine air defense and WLR function in a single radar platform with 3D AESA technology which can detect long-range missiles as well UAVs. Lockheed Martin’s Q-53 has the capability to identify and track UAVs thus combining air surveillance simultaneously with counter target acquisition in a single sensor.


Umair Aslam
Umair Aslam is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Global Defense Insight. He has worked as a defense journalist reporting on military modernization programs, nuclear non-proliferation, arms control, and the South Asian Arms race.

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