Military air-traffic control uses Falcon Electric rugged on-line uninterruptible power protection

Jan. 1, 2007
Air-traffic controllers in the U.S. Army, Air Force, and Air National Guard needed rugged on-line uninterruptible power protection for their radar sets.

Air-traffic controllers in the U.S. Army, Air Force, and Air National Guard needed rugged on-line uninterruptible power protection for their radar sets. They found a solution from Falcon Electric Inc. in Irwindale, Calif.

The AN/TPN29 and MPN14K landing control central radar sets that U.S. Army, Air Force and Air National Guard use for air-traffic control are designed for tactical mobility and can serve as complete airport surveillance radar (ASR) sets or radar approach control (RAPCON) shelters.

Depending on the situation in which the radar set is deployed-combat-limited conditions or remote operations, for example-military personnel can assemble the radar set in less than 16 hours.

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The radar sets, which have a range of 200 nautical miles and are synchronized to provide data with participating aircraft, help sequence and separate aircraft, provide final approach direction, and offer guidance through air defense corridors and zones. In addition, the radar sets coordinate status with local air defense units at predetermined airports, air bases and bare bases.

Communication between the radar and the pilot is secure in all types of weather with little to no effect on the equipment in operation at air-traffic-control stations. Upgrades to the communications switch node are necessary to increase range, security, and stability of the ASR system.

The communications switch node system is powered by its own uninterruptible power supply (UPS), which was originally specified at 1.5 kilovolt-amperes, systems engineers say. Because the primary power source inside the ASR can be from a diesel generator or from the local utility, designers specified an on-line UPS, which Falcon Electric ultimately provided.

Unlike an off-line or line-interactive UPS, on-line technology continuously conditions the incoming AC power and regenerates a clean sinewave at all times. This is important because the power from the gen-set is usually dirty yet stable, and the power coming off a nearby utility can be both dirty and unstable, with chronic under- and overvoltage conditions, depending on the location of the theater.

Designers needed a rugged, double-conversion on-line uninterruptible power system because the air-traffic-control systems are designed to operate in harsh operating environments. Engineers looked for a UPS that offered a rugged on-line topology as well as a compact form factor, as space inside the ASR is at a premium.

Designers learned that the waveform produced by a UPS generating a pure sinewave with a high crest factor (peak versus RMS voltage values) can translate to more power. This means one vendor’s 1.25 kilovolt-ampere unit provides roughly the same amount of usable power as Falcon’s SG Series 1 kilovolt-ampere, a unit smaller in capacity but lighter and more compact than other products they considered.

For more information contact Falcon Electric online at

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