Italian radar element supports NATO deployable air surveillance unit

The Italian TPS-77 radar at its deployed site at Liepaja right on the shores of the Latvian Baltic Sea coast. Photo by Kevin Lemée

LIEPAJA, Latvia – An Italian Air Force TPS-77 radar element has been the sensor for NATO’s deployed air surveillance and control unit – the DARS* – supporting the integration into Latvia’s Air Defence System and NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS).

Since late-August, exercise Ramstein Dust-II 17 has been taking place in Latvia. During the deployment exercise, elements of NATO’s Deployable Air Command and Control Centre moved to Lielvarde Air Base to test their expeditionary capabilities and practice their core functionalities such as providing area air surveillance, production and dissemination of the recognised air picture and tactical control of training air missions.

A key sensor that allows the unit to operate is the Italian Air Force TPS-77 radar deployed to Liepaja right on the Baltic Sea coast approximately 270 kilometres west of Lielvarde. The 20-strong Italian element set up their camp in Latvia to prepare and integrate into the exercise feeding radar data into the DARS system.

Patriot System 2 – part of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System

Creation of recognised air pictures starts with a radar element such as the Italian TPS-77. The data of all aircraft within its coverage area are fed into NATINAMDS.

At the deployed DARS this data is fused and transmitted to the Baltic Control and Reporting Centre at Karmelava, Lithuania, which in turn sends its consolidated data to NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Uedem, Germany.

At Allied Air Command at Ramstein, Germany, the overall NATO recognised air picture for all of Europe is maintained together with the input from the southern CAOC at Torrejon, Spain.

An F-15C of the 493d Fighter Squadron (493 FS), nicknamed “The Grim Reapers”, scrambles to intercept at RAF Lakenheath. The Squadron is presently on Baltic Air Policing duties in Siauliai, Lithuania and represents a key element in NATO’S Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS).

When it redeploys to its home garrison more than 2,500 kilometres away at the beginning of October, the Italian radar element will have been part of NATO’s 24/7 mission of safeguarding the skies over Allies territories.

 

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