October 30, 2012: The U.S. Army has developed a lightweight radar that can calculate where mortar or rocket fire is coming from and instantly transmit the GPS data to nearby artillery, gunships, warplanes, or ground troops. The AN/TPQ-50 can be mounted in a hummer or dropped by parachute in two 68 kg (150 pound) containers. Unlike the larger (truck mounted) AN/TPQ-53, the lightweight radar does not have the range to deal with most artillery weapons (guns, howitzers, and rockets). However, in the war on terror the enemy often has mortars and small rockets and almost never uses artillery.
The AN/TPQ-50 is a further development of the AN/TPQ-48, which entered service a decade ago. In Afghanistan, where many temporary bases were set up in remote areas, the AN/TPQ-48 was easier to get into position than the larger AN/TPQ-36 or AN/TPQ-53 and capable enough to get the job done. The army is in the process of selecting someone to manufacture 138 AN/TPQ-50 systems and more later on if needed.
AN/TPQ-50 is a radar system which, when it spots an incoming shell, calculates where it came from and transmits the location to a nearby artillery unit, which then fires on where the mortar is (or was). This process takes 2-3 minutes (or less, for experienced troops). The radar has 360 degree coverage and only needs one or two troops to operate it. If the enemy fired from a residential area, local troops (of a QRF, or Quick Reaction Force) also get the GPS data and can often catch the men who fired the rockets or mortar shells. The AN/TPQ-50 can use batteries or vehicle power and consumes under 400 watts.