Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New radar systems unveiled at Lakenheath

by Senior Airman David Dobrydney, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England (AFNS) -- The 48th Fighter Wing became the first U.S Air Forces in Europe unit to receive new radar systems for air traffic control.

The Digital Airport Surveillance Radar and Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System became operational Nov. 18 as part of a project conducted by officials with the Air Force Electronic Systems Center and Federal Aviation Administration to replace aging technology at Department of Defense airfields.

"This is a real team effort, and we appreciate it," said Col. John Quintas, the 48th Fighter Wing commander. "This improvement is about safety and will make our ability to go to war safer and more reliable."

The new DASR system is a replacement for the Generalized Proportional Navigation system previously used to track aircraft and weather conditions in the vicinity of civilian and military airfields.

"The old GPN-20 radar is being replaced by DASR to improve reliability, provide additional weather data, reduce maintenance cost and improve performance," said Xavier Rayford, a 48th Communications Squadron telecommunications specialist and the DASR installation project manager.

In order to get the most use from the DASR system, the STARS consoles were concurrently installed in place of the older Automated Radar Terminal Systems at the radar approach control facility.

Master Sgt. Klane Pierce, the 48th Operations Squadron assistant chief controller, said STARS will allow him and his co-workers to do their job more effectively.

"The new digital system provides a clearer picture of all aircraft that we're controlling, both at (Royal Air Force) Lakenheath and (RAF) Mildenhall," he said. "There are a lot of smaller aircraft and gliders that in the past may have not been detected, or we couldn't see because of ground clutter. The new system eliminates these problems."

Besides the ability to see aircraft more clearly, Mr. Rayford added that the new systems are designed to allow for growth in activity on the flightline.

"The STARS system is designed to accommodate air traffic growth and the introduction of new automation functions which will improve the safety and efficiency of the U.S. National Airspace System as the legacy systems are replaced," he said.