According to The Drive, U.S. Air Force is seeking responses for its requirement to acquire full-size Super Realistic mock-ups of the Russian S-300PMU air defense system – NATO codename SA-20 Gargoyle.
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.
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.
In a notice posted on the U.S. government’s main contracting website last month, the Air Force Materiel Command announced the Air Force Sustainment Center Operating Location Ogden of Hill AFB is conducting market research to determine the availability, interest, and capability of potential business sources qualified and able to compete for a contract to provide two realistic launcher mock-up of Russian-built S-300PMU systems.
“Headquarters, Utah Test and Training Range requires a vendor to manufacture two high-fidelity SA-20 Transport/Erector/Launcher (TEL) surrogates for use on the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR),” an Air Force Materiel Command notice states.
To assist in the Air Combat Command (ACC) request to “replicate the physical threat representative multi-spectral (Electro-Optical, Infrared, and Radar Cross Section [RCS]) signatures located in close proximity to the radar signal emitter,” threat surrogates must be present. While threat radars are available on United States test ranges for sensor and weapons testing, they are expensive to maintain, operate, and replace.
The development of high-fidelity surrogates is an effort to provide a less expensive, signature representative target that can represent the actual radars.
High-fidelity surrogates are necessary to provide training of cognitive skills to live aircrews. New advancements in technology require these surrogates to be signature accurate to assist in training.
Without knowing the capabilities of the latest aircraft sensors and radar systems, one must compromise between signature fidelity, related costs, and training effectiveness to develop a surrogates.
An initial analysis of the training environment suggests that surrogates with these capabilities will provide adequate training.
Currently, the S-300PMU air defense systems are operated by Russia, Iran, Syria, China, and other countries.