In my post of August 7 about the U.S. sale of a large phased-array FPS-132 early warning radar to Qatar, I omitted the detail that the announcement stated that the radar was a Block 5 version of the FPS-132. I omitted the “Block 5” designation because I has never seen this before and had no idea what it meant. However, a 36(b)(1) Arms Sale Notification released today provides some additional information.
Specifically, the Notification says:
“The AN/FPS-132 Block 5 supports Missile Defense, Space Situational Awareness, and Missile Warning areas. The Block 5 system employs 3 electronically steered phased array radar faces to survey 360 degree azimuth. The Block 5 system is capable of reporting airborne tracks to a maximum range of up to 2,000 km and to a minimum radar cross section (RCS) of 1 m2.”
(1) It is a three-faced array (like the one at Fylingdales). So its coverage is not solely focused on Iran , but will include the entire region.
(2) The description of it having a maximum range of 2,000 km and a minimum target RCS capability of 1 square meter:
(a) Vastly understates the radar’s capabilities. See my post of August 7 for a discussion of the range capabilities of at least the U.S. FPS-132s.
(b) Indicates that the radar is a much smaller version of the U.S. version of the FPS-132 (unlikely)
(c) indicates that software restrictions are being installed in the radar to limit its capabilities.
If I had to guess, I’d guess it’s (a).
The 360° nature of the radar would make it even more attractive for space surveillance, assuming (as I am) that the U.S. will have access to its data. It’s hard to see what the south looking face(s) of the radar would do other than look for space objects.