Labuan Radar Site

AN/TPS-77 long range air surveillance radar. Lockheed Martin.

SHAH ALAM: Earlier this year, Malaysian Defence reported that Defence Minister DSU Mohamad Hasan told Parliament on March 16 that the Lockheed Martin TPS-77 long range surveillance radar, donated by the US, will be commissioned in Labuan by year end.

He said it would replace the Alenia radar which has been decommissioned as it is no longer mission capable. The radar will be placed at Bukit Kubong, Labuan, the site where the Alenia used to be operated by Skuadron 340.

The radar dome/shelter at Bukit Kubong, Labuan which is operated by RMAF Skuadron 340. RMAF

The TPS-77 radar is gifted by the US to Malaysia under the Building Partner Capacity programme. From a previous Malaysian Defence report.

Lockheed Martin has been awarded a firm contract from the US government to supply a long range air surveillance radar including support and training for the RMAF. The radar is likely the one to be gifted to Malaysia by the US as reported previously. Although the announcement did not mention the type, it did say it cost some US$25 million (RM104 million) and expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2025.

And now to thanks to working visit by the Assistant Chief Of Staff Materiel Brig Jen Nor Azmi Abdul Rahman to Labuan last work we now have pictures of the radar dome/shelter for the Alenia radar at Skn 340.

RMAF personnel after visiting the radar dome/shelter at Bukit Kubong, Labuan which is operated by Skuadron 340. RMAF

It is unclear whether the radar dome/shelter will fit the antenna of the TPS-77 radar once it is delivered to the site. If not, I am guessing that RMAF will have to contract out a new radome/shelter. I have been told previously that CTRM was contracted to manufacture the radome/shelter for the other RMAF radars.
The radar coverage of Philippines military radar. CIC.

With the commissioning of the new radar, RMAF will now have coverage of eastern Philippines. The Philippines radar coverage (see above) has extended to northern and eastern Sabah since the introduction of new long-range radars within the last few years.

RMAF will also operate a new radar, likely in Bintulu within the next two years.

— Malaysian Defence

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  1. Labuan radar is mostly for the coverage of areas over Gugusan Semarang Peninjau. It cannot see over eastern philippines due to the Kinabalu mountain ranges. If we need airspace radar coverage over eastern philippines, we need an air defence radar located in ESSCOM area.

    As for the RAT-31 radar obsolescence, i believe it is still supportable and upgradable, as even thailand and indonesia has recently (1-2 years back) bought a version of the RAT-31 radar. I think that the Martello S-743 radar used by tuDM elsewhere is even older than the RAT-31 in Labuan. The RAT-31 dismantled in Labuan could be redeployed to locations now still without a radar, such as Bintulu or ESSCOM.

    The new GM 400 Alpha is to be located not in Bintulu, but in johor as per MENHAN statement in parliment last year.

  2. The AN/TPS-77 is basically a portable/transportable version of AN/FPS-117 (fixed type) so if we’re going to mount them pretty much permanently under cover, should have went for the fixed installation version.

  3. Out of curiosity, during conflict do Air Forces shift the location of their radars .. or leave them as there were?

  4. Most of our ground radars are of the portable/transportable version, but we put them under a radome to protect them from the elements.

    Even the current RAT-31 in Labuan is of the portable/transportable version.

    Why we do this? No idea really.

  5. @Mat Bon
    Look at the domed installation, it doesn’t look like the radar could be rapidly dismounted and moved out. That point is moot anyhow as in times of conflict, these installations whether fixed or semi-permanent would get taken out early on.

    “Why we do this? No idea really.”
    I guess with a semi fixed position under radome will keep them going longer but if so why the portable versions as permanently fixed one might have better performance.

  6. … – ”Why we do this? No idea really.”

    Because having the ability to rapidly shift a radar provides operational flexibility and leaves it less vulnerable. The problem is that although a radar might be ”mobile” actually being able to shit it presents a list of challenges; i.e. adequate power supply; suitable location; etc.

  7. … – ”As for the RAT-31 radar obsolescence, i believe it is still supportable and upgradable”

    Depends on whether the RMAF or more importantly the pencil pushers/bean counters see it as a good return of investment as opposed to buying something newer with a much longer period in service.

    Lest it be overlooked the RMAF and DCA also has secondary ATC radars which enable coverage; albeit at shorter ranges. It’s secondary ATC radars [RMAF and RSAF ones] ones which are linked to HQIADS.

  8. Most of the time it’s the medium range radar that is often moved around to plug holes in our long range radar coverage and as part of GAPU deployment.

    Hopefully when we get MRSAM we also get additional medium range radar

  9. I always thought The radar can be transportable when it need too like during a crisis for instance but it’s sit mostly in fix location under a shelter to reduce operations & maintenance cost during peacetime. No?

  10. dundun – ”Most of the time it’s the medium range radar that is often moved around to plug holes in our long range radar coverage and as part of GAPU deployment.”

    We’re talking about RMAF radars. GAPU has TRS-3Ds but those are army assets. BTW nothing is ”moved around” even if on paper they can and we cater for the possibility. The 2nd batch of S-600s and the HADR were ”fixed” as are most of the RMAF’s secondary ATC radars [a pair are mobile] but everything else we’ve bought is ”mobile”.

    zaft – ”I always thought The radar can be transportable ”

    On paper there are ”mobile” but in actuality they’re rarely shifted around due to various issues.

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