New 'Eyes' for Air Combat Operations
(Source: Dutch Ministry of Defence; issued Jan 17, 2020)
(Unofficial translation by
The new Smart-L radar is hoisted into place, next to its immediate predecessor which is being dismantled. The contrast between the two illustrates the progress in radar technology over the past decades. (Dutch MoD photo)
The Air Operations Control Station Nieuw Milligen (AOCS NM) of the air force received a new radar yesterday in the Frisian town of Wier. It is the Signal Multibeam Acquisition Radar for Targeting, Long-Range (SMART-L). The old installation, a so-called Medium Power Radar (MPR), served more than 40 years.

The radar in North Friesland is one of the two that provide combat air control in Nieuw Milligen with a radar image 24/7.

Extra eyes

The MPR was far ahead of its time at the time and gave the Air Force extra eyes to protect and defend the Netherlands. "Much has changed in the period that the radar has served in Wier," said commander Colonel Marco Zeemeijer. "There are not only new players in the airspace such as drones and unmanned aerial vehicles, but also modern combat aircraft. Nieuw-Milligen is ready for its role in the air force of the future."

Immediately after shutting down, engineers started dismantling the old radar.

The replacement also means a farewell to the striking image that could be seen far away in Wier: the large white radar “golf ball.” It served as protection for the equipment so that it could operate under all weather conditions. The new radar is built in such a way that the “golf ball” is no longer necessary.

The construction work in Wier will be completed in the course of 2020. Then the new radar is transferred to the Air Force.

The second MPR, the one in Nieuw-Milligen, will remain in service until the second SMART-L is delivered.


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