Czech Air Defense: modernization of the RACCOS command and control system and ReVISOR radar sensors

Czech Air Defense: modernization of the RACCOS command and control system and ReVISOR radar sensors
03 / 09 / 2020, 10:00

The Army of the Czech Republic has been using the RACCOS command and fire control system and the Czech-made ReVISOR radar sensor for several years as part of its Air Defense. Work is currently underway to modernize these systems, and the Army is planning to acquire additional ReVISORs.

As part of the Air Defense of the Czech Republic, an important modernization process of the RACCOS Automated Command and Fire Control System (ACFCS) is currently underway. The first components of the system were acquired by the Czech Armed Forces in 2005. RACCOS was developed for the Army by the Pardubice company RETIA. The modernization of the RACCOS system is an important part of the process of increasing Air Defense capabilities. However, the valid certification of this system will expire next year and without the necessary upgrade it could not meet the conditions for granting a new certification, so it would not be possible to use it in the Air Defense of the Czech Republic. Therefore, at the end of June this year, the Ministry of Defense awarded RETIA a contract for the modernization of the ACFCS GBAD (Ground-Based Air Defense).

A follow-up step to the RACCOS modernization process will be the improvement of ReVISOR mobile reconnaissance radar sensors (also produced by RETIA), primarily through the integration of IFF mode 5. Czech Air Defense units equipped with the RBS 70 portable missile launchers use ReVISORs as their basic means of radar reconnaissance. Czech Army took over the first of this two-dimensional radar from the Pardubice company in 2014. By 2017, deliveries of another five pieces followed. All are included in the armament of the 25th Air Defence Missile Regiment.

ReVISOR - radar sensor with more functions

From the beginning, ReVISOR was designed as a means of radar reconnaissance of airspace for Very Short Range Air Defense (VSHORAD) systems, including an integrated command and control system module, based on the exact requirements and parameters given by the Czech Army. Thus, the Army did not introduce into its equipment a radar, which was "just available", but a means that fully fulfills its specific ideas in accordance with the applied tactical principles and needs, in connection with the established anti-aircraft missiles. It is important to emphasize that the ReVISOR reconnaissance sensor is designed as one of the elements of a broader Air Defense system with the ability to provide users with several functions.

The complete Air Defense system consists of radar, site of fire control and also an effector (anti-aircraft missile launchers, in the case of the Czech Armed Forces they are the RBS 70 or RBS 70NG). ReVISOR (in the role of radar) primarily provides airspace reconnaissance. However, it is designed to allow, in addition to airspace research, the creation of a special workplace for anti-aircraft platoon commanders, so it has the ability to play the role of fire control site. This workplace is directly part of ReVISOR and it is possible to control the firing of the required number of the RBS 70 or RBS 70NG anti-aircraft missile systems. The commander may set it up directly on the radar sensor transport trailer or at a safe distance from it. In the event of an attack against the radar sensor, the commander and his fire control workplace remain safe.

ReVISOR is able to detect, track and identify air targets and transmit information about them in real time to superior command posts or directly to batteries of anti-aircraft missiles thanks to the ability of autonomous deployment with the so-called C2 module. ReVISOR is a fully interoperable system and many times, without any problems, it cooperated with the means of command and control of NATO forces in international exercises.

The designers and technicians of the Pardubice company RETIA have already taken into account the development and production of ReVISOR by the fact that it will serve primarily as a radar surveillance and search tool for RBS 70 anti-aircraft kits. These were the main reasons why 2D technology was chosen for the radar. The operator of the RBS 70 only needs to know the position of the target and its trajectory, the operator of the launcher then points the target through his own optoelectronic elements. The parameters of the ReVISOR radar have also been adapted to this fact, and 2D technology is fully suitable for the given purpose.

The introduction of the ReVISOR in the Czech Army was preceded by several months of demanding and intensive testing, which the sensor passed successfully and fully met the expectations and criteria of the Army. In addition to company and military tests, experimental simulations were performed, which compared the firing cycles with 2D and 3D radars. They showed that in the case of a 3D radar, a shorter time can be achieved, but this difference had no effect on the efficiency and effectiveness of the RBS 70 system on the target, which is due to the nature and specifications of this missile set.

Radar with 2D or 3D technology?

In the past, there have been objections to why the military chose 2D technology instead of 3D in the case of ReVISOR. Pardubice RETIA is able to develop and manufacture radars with 3D technology, but the most important are always the user's requirements, the purpose and also the way the radar system is used. The evaluation of the chosen solution must always take into account the involvement of the given element in the wider system and subsequently the functioning of the system as a whole. It is precisely such an evaluative view that testifies to professional erudition and can bring objective and beneficial conclusions, otherwise it is a misunderstanding of the substance of the matter.

ReVISOR's reconnaissance and firepower capabilities are based on the Czech Army's specifications, which correspond to the method of deploying specific air defense equipment (ie RBS 70 and RBS 70NG) and the concept of active and passive airspace protection in given situations and locations. Due to the optoelectronic targeting method, the RBS 70 or RBS 70 NG missile sets do not need 3D information, they need the azimuth information that 2D technology reliably provides.

ReVISOR provides information on targets in real time, which is a condition for the decision-making processes also in real time and the effective action of missile systems RBS 70 and RBS 70NG against targets. RETIA in the form of ReVISOR has also created a radar system with easy operation and quick training of operators, which thus fulfills in all respects the tasks for which the Army needs it.

In addition, it gives the user the ability to expand the range of detectable targets, has protection against interference, offers an intelligent model of decision-making against targets, modularity and the ability to create a battle group according to the task, etc. Of course, the price also played an important role in purchasing ReVISOR radars. Radar with 2D technology is less costly to purchase than a radar with 3D technology and it usually has the advantage of smaller size and weight, ensuring significantly better system mobility. If 2D technology fully complies with the way the entire Air Defense system is deployed, higher costs for more technologically demanding equipment are not justifiable.

ReVISOR is characterized by very compact dimensions during transport and in a developed configuration. The Czech Armed Forces uses it as a towed element mounted on a small single-axle trailer. Depending on the specific requirements of users, the radar can also be installed on a light truck or armored vehicles of the Pandur II or TITUS type. However, the Czech Army uses RBS 70 missile systems as stationary anti-aircraft elements. They are therefore moved by trucks to the destination, where the operator develops them into a combat configuration. Therefore, a towed trailer variant was chosen for ReVISOR.

In the future, the army is considering the introduction of new special armored vehicles (eg TITUS) for the RBS 70 and the newly introduced RBS 70NG kits, but these will not play the role of self-propelled launchers. These will be ballistic-resistant transport platforms for stationary anti-aircraft launchers (as before), which will, however, provide greater protection for operators and equipment when moving than conventional trucks. Therefore, the installation of the ReVISOR radar on a trailer is completely adequate and fully satisfactory in the future. In addition, such a configuration provides greater flexibility, as the trailer can be coupled with any towing vehicle.

The Army plans to acquire additional pieces of the ReVISOR radar sensor in connection with the acquisition of new RBS 70NG missile kits. This is a clear reference that this radar sensor has proved its worth in operational deployment and its concept fully corresponds to the Army's ideas for a reconnaissance and surveillance element for short-range missile systems in its armament in the future.

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