At Qatar’s Al Udeid Air Base, 23 airmen from the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron, Detachment 3, ensure no aircraft within a 240 nautical mile range goes unnoticed. Radar surveillance helps give the team a clear picture of the sky, according to the U.S. Air Force (USAF), specifically weather shielded transportable (TPS-75) radar systems.
“We’re the eyes in the sky in support of the Combined Defense of the Arabian Gulf,” says 1st Lt. Elijha Williams, 727th EACS commander. “Our main mission here is to provide long-range radar surveillance that’s in support of the battle management airspace for our sectors. Along with the long-range radar picture, we also have long-range radios that we maintain and provide to shoot out to our operators across the AOR so that they can speak to the pilots in the air.”
“In order for the radars to perform like they should, it takes a combined effort. It begins with my power production technicians being able to provide sufficient generator power to fire up the system,” continues Williams. “Due to the amount of technology constantly running in the radar shelter, my (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) techs ensure that this system is able to get the proper cooling to operate. The radar maintainers perform extensive preventative maintenance and quickly respond to any faults that may occur within the system.”
The airmen verify the radar systems function normally, and operate the equipment as well. To uncover an airborne target’s location, radio frequency (RF) pulses are sent toward the object. Its position is revealed by examining how far the pulse travels before it bounces back to the radar system, according to the USAF.
“We create the RF pulse that goes out a full 360 degrees to give complete coverage of the area up to 240 nautical miles,” says Senior Airman Collin Tully, 727th EACS radar maintainer. “It’s a very useful radar for deployed locations because it gives us a long-range and unique capability of all of our Air Force systems.”
Staff Sgt. Matthew Hawkins, 727th EACS radar maintenance NCO in charge, says their work provides a “security blanket” for the area, “There’s some huge missions coming out of Al Udeid that we provide the security for at the Airman level, which is a pretty cool concept. Just feeling that impact and knowing your presence is being felt throughout the Air Force is pretty cool.”