Bulgaria is looking for 3D radars to fully utilize its F-16s

In a fervent competition, a total of five eminent defense corporations are contending to secure a lucrative contract. This contract, valued at a staggering 400 million lev [$221.7 million], pertains to the production of Bulgaria’s advanced military surveillance radars.

Bulgaria is looking for 3D radars to fully utilize its F-16s - TPS-77
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

To bolster both its own airspace security and fortify NATO’s eastern flank, the Balkan nation has been meticulously scouring the international market for a viable supplier of cutting-edge 3D radar technology.

In the competitive landscape of the project, several international powerhouses have thrown their hats into the ring. From the United States, Lockheed Martin has expressed an interest in the bid, joined by Italy’s Leonardo. They are further challenged by Elta, hailing from Israel, and Spain’s Indra, both vying for the same opportunity. Thales, a prominent defense firm based in France, is extending its comprehensive solutions to the Ministry of Defense in Bulgaria.

In the realm of military advancements, Bulgaria is anticipated to acquire its latest radar system by the year 2025. This projection, as conveyed by Colonel Dimitar Georgiev, the esteemed Chief of Staff for the Bulgarian Air Force, hinges on the successful signing of a contract within the current year.

Insufficient Radar Capabilities

For a significant timespan, Bulgarian military specialists have persistently raised alarms, expressing grave concern that the nation’s army lacks the presence of military-grade radars. They argue that these crucial pieces of technology are vital for the efficient surveillance and protection of their territories.

Is the F-35 in the Middle East threatened by Iran's X-band radar?
Photo credit: Wikipedia

The absence of military radars places a significant limitation on the Bulgarian Air Force, effectively hindering the full operational capacity of its expected F-16 fighter aircraft.

It is reported that the service employs sophisticated civil aviation radars, a technological advancement that, unfortunately, does not extend coverage to the entirety of the nation’s territory.

Civil aviation radar for military purposes

The military uses civil aviation radars for military purposes in several ways. One of the main ways is through the use of secondary surveillance radar [SSR], which is used to identify and track aircraft. This information can be used by military air defense systems to detect and intercept potential threats.

Another way that civil aviation radars are used for military purposes is through the use of primary surveillance radar [PSR]. This type of radar is used to detect and track aircraft that do not have a transponder, which can be useful for identifying potential threats that are trying to avoid detection.

Bulgaria is looking for 3D radars to fully utilize its F-16s - ELM-2106
Photo credit: Twitter

In addition to these uses, the military can also use civil aviation radars for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes. By monitoring the airspace around military installations or other sensitive areas, the military can detect and track potential threats before they become a problem.

TPS-77, RAT 31DL or ELM-2106

Despite the confidentiality surrounding the matter, it is imperative to mention that Lockheed Martin, a renowned global security and aerospace company, is the manufacturer of the TPS-77 multi-mission, ground-based radar. This advanced piece of technology is capable of executing surveillance operations over medium to long distances, thereby demonstrating its significant utility in the field of defense and security.

In the sphere of multi-threat adaptive radar manufacturing, Indra stands as a notable entity with their production of the Lanza system. Conversely, Leonardo and Elta, each with their distinct advancements, have contributed to the realm of 3D surveillance and air defense radar systems. Specifically, Leonardo has developed the RAT 31DL 3D surveillance radar, while Elta has introduced the ELM-2106 tactical 3D air defense radar.

Occupying a prestigious position as a pioneer within the realm of surveillance technology, Thales is recognized as the architect behind the groundbreaking Ground Observer family of radars. These sophisticated systems are meticulously designed for the dual purpose of monitoring both terrestrial and coastal activities.


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