Army seeks better target tracking

Army officials want to integrate the Ground Moving Target Indicator radar system with the Blue Force Tracking satellite system so commanders and soldiers get a more comprehensive view of enemy and friendly forces on the battlefield, according to Northrop Grumman Corp. officials.

Blue Force Tracking reliably gave U.S. and coalition forces the locations of friendly forces in combat during last year's invasion of Iraq, but rarely did the system generate red icons representing Saddam Hussein's army or paramilitary forces, officials said.

But the indicator radar system, aboard the Air Force's E-8C Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System wide-body aircraft, consistently followed Iraqi enemy ground vehicles. "You have a God's eye view of the battlefield," said Richard Dunn, a senior analyst in the Northrop Grumman Analysis Center.

The indicator uses Doppler radar to track ground vehicles by emitting invisible ultra high-frequency radio and microwaves that bounce off objects, enabling operators to determine target positions by compass bearing and distance.

Indicator and Blue Force systems let military commanders attack with more nimble forces because they do not need masses of forces to protect their flanks or guard against surprise enemy attacks, said Dunn, a 29-year Army officer who last served as director of the Chief of Staff of the Army's Staff Group.

Northrop Grumman makes both systems. The Los Angeles-based company held a media briefing this morning on a February report titled "Ground Moving Target Indicator and the Transformation of U.S. Warfighting," which profiled the indicator system's use in Iraq.

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