August 11, 2005
The United States is wearing out its 1970s era FireFinder artillery and mortar finding radar, because of heavy use. FireFinder was developed in the 1970s, based on Vietnam experience with enemy mortar and rocket attacks. Firefinder 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 3-4 minutes (or less, for experienced troops.) FireFinder worked as advertised, but got little use until U.S. troops entered Iraq. Since then, the FireFinder has been very effective, and heavily used. Too heavily used. There were not a lot of spare parts stockpiled for FireFinder, but now there are over $200 million in contracts out for rush orders of FireFinder spare parts. There is also an effort to design a cheaper, smaller and more effective successor to FireFinder.