The U.S. Air Force Wants to Buy Launchers Similar to Russian S-300 System

WASHINGTON, (BM) – The U.S. Air Force wants to buy two life-size mock transporter-erector-launchers, or TELs, that mimic the physical look, as well as radar and other signatures, of those associated with Russia’s S-300PMU-1 and -2 air defense systems, learned, quoting The Drive.

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The service needs them to support realistic training exercises and test events within the sprawling Utah Test and Training Range, or UTTR. The planned purchases may be related to the U.S. military’s acquisition of at least two mobile radars from Ukraine in the past year or so that may be related to the S-300.

Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) says it expects to issue a formal solicitation to buy the “high-fidelity SA-20 transport/erector/launcher (TEL) surrogates” later in September 2019. It had first announced it was interested in buying the faux TELs on Aug. 29, 2019. SA-20 is a designation the U.S. military and NATO use that covers both the S-300PMU-1 and -2, which are also sometimes referred to as the SA-20A and SA-20B respectively.

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“High-fidelity surrogates are necessary to provide training of cognitive skills to live air crews,” AFMC’s contracting announcement explained. “New advancements in technology require these surrogates to be signature accurate to assist in training.”

The Air Force says that the mock TELs have to have a radar cross section (RCS) that is representative of the real thing, but they are also interested in surrogates that have appropriate electro-optical and infrared signatures, as well. The latter could be achieved by installing systems within the mockup that produce a thermal signature in line with the engine and auxiliary power units on real examples.

The contracting documents do not specify the exact kind of TEL the Air Force wants, but they do include images of existing mockups of the version based on the 8×8 MAZ-7910 heavy truck chassis. Russia also produces semi-trailer launchers for the S-300PMU-1/2 system with various trucks able to act as the prime mover. A number of potential American opponents, including Iran and Syria, operate examples of this air defense system.

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There is also no requirement for the mock TELs to be mobile themselves, with the contracting notice very clearly outlining a requirement that two personnel be able to make them ready for transport to any location within the UTTR within 30 minutes. After arriving, two individuals must be able to set them up within 30 minutes.

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Editorial team
Source: The Drive