A CASE STUDY: Assessing Radar System Effectiveness for Marine Combat Operations

STK Modeling Helps Save Nearly $300M in System Acquisition Costs

Solution | ISR


The U.S. Marine Corps Target Acquisition Platoon (TAP) needed to upgrade its Firefinder radar systems with a system possessing improved probability of detection and range.


AGI’s STK software modeled radar coverage to determine how many of the proposed new radar systems could accomplish the mission of a Marine Expeditionary Force conducting combat operations.


Initial capabilities documents had proposed that 10 replacement systems per TAP would be required. Study results revealed that six systems would be adequate, with eight systems preferred—reducing the overall system acquisition costs by nearly $300M.

The U.S. Marine Corps artillery regiment had a requirement for 10 AN/TPQ-46A Firefinder radar systems per Target Acquisition Platoon (TAP). With the aging Firefinder system due for a replacement with improved probability of detection and range, the Marines conducted a Counterbattery Radar (CBR) study to determine how many of the Firefinder’s proposed replacement systems—AN/ TPS-80, Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR)—could support Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) operations.

AGI’s STK software allowed the study team to conduct comparative analysis between the Firefinder and the G/ATOR, the result of which was that only 6–8 of the new systems, not the originally presumed 10, would be required per TAP. This finding changed the overall required number of systems needed from 38 to 28. The estimated savings in procurement cost is $290 million. In addition to the millions of dollars in procurement savings, the reduced number of systems also provides manpower savings which could be used to reduce the force, or be allocated to other functional areas.

The study team, using subject matter experts (SMEs), tactically placed the radar systems in the battle space using STK. Representative enemy rocket and artillery ranges were used to determine the percentage of coverage each radar system was able to achieve. Because STK displays the effects of terrain and system range constraints, SMEs could place each system for maximum effect. In addition to single system coverage, the team depicted areas covered by two, three or four systems, resulting in improved probability of detection.

STK allowed the study team to conduct comparative analysis between the Firefinder and the G/ATOR in addition to determining the number of radars required to satisfy tactical requirements. Once the initial scenarios were set up, making changes to the number of radars was relatively easy and provided quick turnaround on data output.