New Airport Surveillance Radar Goes All-Digital

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The FAA announced last week the nationwide deployment of the first all-digital airport radar system. The Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR-11) will replace older-generation analog radars that are nearing the end of their service life, the FAA said. "Digital radar is a critical component of a modernized airspace system," said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey in a news release. "The ASR-11 feeds more data more reliably to air traffic control for greater safety and efficiency." The ASR-11 performs better than the old surveillance radars and provides improved digital aircraft and weather input needed by the FAA's new air traffic control automation systems, such as STARS (Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System). The first ASR-11 went operational in March at the Willow Grove, Pa., Naval Air Station, and has been providing radar data to STARS at the Philadelphia International Airport. The ASR-11 is a joint FAA/Department of Defense program. The FAA plans to procure a total of 112 ASR-11s from Raytheon of Lexington, Mass., with scheduled deployment completed in 2009. The FAA has procured 25 systems since the contract was awarded in December 1996.