The Iraqi Air Defence Command (IADC) had held an inauguration ceremony for its first Thales Ground Master 403 (GM403) mobile radar system. The Ground Master 400 is a mobile radar system manufactured by Thales-Raytheon Systems, then Thales Group. GM400 is a fully digital active electronically scanned array long-range air defense 3D radar, offering detection from very high to very low altitudes. It tracks a wide range of targets from highly maneuverable tactical aircraft flying below several hundred feet to the unconventional small radar cross section devices, such as UAVs or cruise missiles. The GM400 family includes the GM403 and the GM406.
Iraqi Defense Minister Juma Inad Saadoun said in his speech during the inauguration of the new radar system in Diwaniyah province: “The new radar system was inaugurated, which was contracted with the French company Thales to complete it. It will be installed and operated in Iraq to complete the process of detection and early warning of hostile high and medium altitudes. These systems are the foundation stone that was laid earlier for the new main operations center of the Air Defense Command, which was contracted with the same French company for the purpose of building it in an advanced manner and building the temporary and permanent infrastructure for these radars, and these construction works have been started.”
The GM406 has a transmitter which is twice as powerful as the GM403, giving it 20% greater range, increasing from 390 km to 450 km. The GM406 is primarily designed to equip fixed sites, with the GM403 designed to be deployable. The system can be set up by a four-man crew in 60 minutes and can be remotely operated. The system can be rapidly deployed mounted on a 6×6 or 8×8 tactical truck and can be transported by a single C-130 aircraft or a helicopter. The GM200 operates as an air surveillance gap filler or a sensor for an air defence system. The GM200 also features a surface channel and a Rocket/Artillery/Mortar sense and warn capability.
The recently arrived GM403 was switched on during the event so it could begin to detect air targets over the western region, marking a new era in the country’s ability to control its airspace. The MoD confirmed it had ordered radars from Thales on 24 July, when it announced that construction of a new air-defence operations centre had begun, saying they would be operated in conjunction with Iraq’s US-made TPS-77 long-range air surveillance radars. At the time, it was reported that both the GM403 and the smaller GM200 radars have been ordered. However, there has been no indication as to the numbers that will be delivered.