The US Marine Corps has awarded Northrop Grumman a $58.7m contract to develop and test the ground weapon locating radar (GWLR) mode for the AN/TPS-80 ground / air task-oriented radar (G/ATOR).

The GWLR mode is a software update, which offers better mission capability to the ground-based, multi-mission active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

Capable of performing four missions using the same hardware, the G/ATOR’soperation will be optimised by software loads.

Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems Land and Self Protection Systems Division Ground Based Tactical Radars director Roshan Roeder said: "Inserting this capability into G/ATOR is an important step toward providing the Marines with a highly capable and highly versatile system.

"Using an open architecture approach, we’re bringing together the best of technology and design experience from ground and airborne applications to create a system that seamlessly facilitates capability upgrades and the insertion of emerging technologies."

"We’re bringing together the best of technology and design experience from ground and airborne applications."

With the implementation of all modes, Marine Corps operators will benefit from a common hardware that can switch between air-surveillance, air-defence, ground weapon locating, and air traffic control through software.

The GWLR mode will allow G/ATOR to detect and track time-critical incoming threats, including rockets, mortars and artillery rounds.

According to Northrop, the system will analyse ballistic trajectories of the threat soon after its detection, and computes their impact points, which enables rapid and accurate threat engagement.

Having entered low rate initial production last year, the G/ATOR system’s additional low-rate initial production systems were placed under contract early this year.

In July, Northrop received a contract to provide its FlightPro Gen III mission computers for Lot 12 of the Marine Corps’ H-1 helicopter upgrade programme.

The Northrop’s system is capable of combining advanced mission, weapons, and video processing capabilities into an airborne computer that will have a capacity to drive four independent, multi-function displays.