5 Ways the Famed Q-53 Multimission Radar is Adapting to Mode

5 Ways the Famed Q-53 Multimission Radar is Adapting to Modern Threats 

July 01, 2024

With a long, rich history of protecting the U.S. Army, the Q-53 radar has entered the next phase of its life to detect and deter evolving threats. What began in 2007 with the charter to detect and track mortars, rockets and artillery, is now bringing the future of warfare to the present day. Here are 5 ways the Q-53 radar is staying relevant and critical in the future of warfighting:


1) Active production line = faster to the field = proven combat system & C2 integration

The Q-53 is mission ready today. With nearly 200 fielded, and more on the way for the U.S. Army and other customers, Lockheed Martin has an active production line and demonstrates proven performance. It can also be integrated with many combat /command & control (C2) platforms.


2) Open Architecture to easily add missions

The Q-53’s active electronically scanned array (AESA) provides the foundation for multi-mission capabilities and plays a key role in the expanded capabilities that are now critical to homeland defense in the US and abroad. The Q-53 has demonstrated the ability to identify and track unmanned aerial systems (UAS), showing the capacity to incorporate air surveillance simultaneously with counter target acquisition in a single sensor. The Q-53 integrated with the Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control (FAAD C2) system to serve as the primary fire control source for the Coyote Block 2 C-UAS defeat system.

These enhancements enable increased radar performance in challenging operating environments. Upgrades include support for Long Range Precision Fires and Air and Missile Defense missions. The Q-53 capabilities are key enablers for these missions and represent continued dedication to the advancement of technology in this space.


Photo by 1st Lt. Stephanie Snyder

3) S-band medium range air surveillance & gap filling capability

Radars in the S-band or mid-band range, as the name implies, strike a balance between long-range and short-range capabilities. Mid-band radars are well suited for applications requiring moderate resolution and detection range, making them ideal for air & missile defense, weather monitoring, multi-function air defense and tracking.

The Q-53 is a highly mobile S-band radar and can detect low-level flight surveillance in specific sectors, localizing fixed wing, rotary wing and UAS type threats, not to mention other gap filling needs like drug interdiction or detection of illegal aircraft. AKA, the Q-53 is survivable in the modern battlefield. 



4) IFF Mode 5 - Discerning Friendly Fire vs. Enemy Fire

Identification Friend for Foe (IFF) Mode 5 is an air surveillance mission and secondary survival capability that can detect friend or foe aircraft. According to the Department Operational Test & Evaluation, IFF systems are sensitive identification devices that emit signals used to identify whether a platform is friend or foe and thereby prevent fratricide. Unlike other legacy radars, the Q-53 can include IFF for Mode 5 for customers seeking that requirement on their air surveillance and detection assets. 



5) In Good Company

The Q-53 radar has a long history of exceeding U.S. Army, and other nations’, requirements and adapting to their evolving missions. The Q-53 is enhancing air surveillance capabilities and integrating with C2 systems and broader weapon systems, enabling soldiers to detect threats and make decisions faster. The Q-53 radar has high reliability and its performance has driven the Army’s desire to modernize the radar and continue to expand the system’s mission requirements, as evidenced by the U.S. Army’s follow-on contract in July 2021 to demonstrate the ability of the Q-53 radars to enhance future capability and maintain superior performance over peer and near-peer adversaries.

Ready for the Future, Today

Staying Ahead of Ready is crucial as threats evolve at hypersonic speeds. The U.S. military and its allies need reliable, effective radar systems that can detect challenging targets and adapt to ever-changing landscapes. Lockheed Martin’s Radar Center of Excellence makes our sensors the top choice for more than 45 nations on six continents and all branches of the US military.