The Army is buying the Lockheed Martin [LMT] AN/TPQ-53 radar that offers new capabilities beyond those of previous radars in countering rockets, artillery and mortar fire, company officials said.

“A total of 65 are under contract,” Steve Bruce, vice president at Lockheed Martin’s Integrated Warfare Systems and Sensors business, told Defense Daily at the annual company media day June 19.

To date, 27 Q-53 radars have been delivered, and 11 of them have “seen combat,” in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

In April, the Army awarded Lockheed Martin a $391 million in production orders for the counterfire target acquisition radars. If all options are exercised, the total contract value would be more than $800 million.

The AN/TPQ-53 (Q-53) offers the short range capability of the X-band TPQ-36 radar that searches for mortars and rockets and short range threats, and the longer-range S-band TPQ-37 radar that searches for artillery threats, Bruce said.

The older radars offer 90 degree protection, useful during the Cold War when font lines were fairly well defined and the threat was expected to come from a specific direction where the radars were looking–the Fulda Gap, for example. This construct didn’t work during the 1990-91 Gulf War where battle lines were unclear and adversaries figured out where radars were pointing and moved to offset them. Now, the Q-53 offers 360-degree protection from rocket, mortar and artillery fire. It can also be used to “stare” in a particular direction.

Also, with new technology advantages, the truck mounted radar detects and classifies the threat and then tracks it, as well as pinpointing its launch point for counterfire, Bruce said. The Q-53 uses a smaller crew than the other radars, has solid state components and offers automated leveling, meaning it can be put into operation quickly. The advances mean the Army will need a smaller crew operating one system and a smaller logistics footprint, all of which are issues the service is looking at in this time of austere budgets.