AN/TPY-2 Radar

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AN/TPY-2 cooling unit, electronics unit, and antenna (left to right). Photo: MDA

The AN/TPY-2 (Army-Navy Transportable Radar Surveillance) is a high-resolution, X-band radar built specifically for missile defense. Developed alongside the THAAD ballistic missile defense system, the AN/TPY-2 is capable of tracking targets at long range and cueing other U.S. missile defense systems. The U.S. Army took delivery of its first production AN/TPY-2 in 2004 and currently operates 12 units in total.1


The Department of Defense awarded an initial contract to produce the AN/TPY-2—then known as the “Theater Missile Defense Ground Based Radar (GBR)”—in 1992. Initially valued at $492M, the contract funded the production of a scaled-down demonstration and validation (Dem/Val) radar and two full-size prototypes.

Despite a higher technical risk, the prototypes designed to employ solid-state transmit/receive (T/R) modules to “track theater missile threats at ranges of 500 kilometers or greater.”2 This effort merged with the THAAD project in 1995.5 The Army began full-rate production of the AN/TPY-2 in August 2000, and in March 2004 received its first production radar. Two additional radars were completed in 2005 and late 2006.6

In 2016, the Missile Defense Agency awarded a contract to produce an upgraded AN/TPY-2 with gallium nitride (GaN) T/R modules. GaN modules possess significantly higher power and thermal efficiencies over existing gallium arsenide (GaAs) systems, promising significantly higher beam performance.7 In 2020, the United States awarded a $2.3 billion contract to produce 7 GaN-based AN/TPY-2 radars to fulfill a foreign military sale to Saudi Arabia.8


Description of TPY-2 system elements. Photo: U.S. Army

The AN/TPY-2 radar consists of four elements: an antenna unit, electronics unit, cooling unit, and power generator unit.9 The antenna module is 12.8 meters long, 2.6 meters high, and weighs 34 tonnes.10

The electronics and cooling units are roughly 12 meters long and weigh 27 – 28 tonnes.11 The diesel power unit supplies 1.1 MW of power, and the cooling unit is capable of circulating 290 gallons of water/glycol coolant per minute.12 The entire system is transportable by road, rail, or aircraft, including via C-130, C-17 and C-5 airlifters.13

The AN/TPY-2 uses a phased-array antenna operating in the X-band. It features a single antenna face which can be adjusted for elevation; the system steers its beam electronically. Its antenna aperture is 9.2 square meters and includes 25,344 solid-state (GaAs) T/R modules.14 It is reportedly capable of tracking objects at ranges 870 to 3,000 km depending on target and mode.15

The AN/TPY-2 is capable of operating in two modes: a Forward Based Mode (FBM) and Terminal Mode (TM). In its forward based mode, the AN/TPY-2 is emplaced close to potential launch areas and provides missile tracking and discrimination information to other assets through the MDA’s C2BMC interface. The system’s short wavelength and antenna design allow it to image targets at high resolutions—critical for distinguishing targets from decoys and debris. In 2013, an FBM radar provided cueing data to support Aegis and THAAD intercepts in MDA flight test FTO-01.16 In 2020, the Missile Defense Agency successfully demonstrated the AN/TPY-2’s ability to direct a Patriot missile intercept.

In terminal mode, the AN/TPY-2 is collocated with a THAAD battery and directly supports THAAD’s detection and engagement, guiding interceptors toward an incoming target. In this mode, the antenna face is slewed upward to track incoming missiles at higher angles.17 Prior its designation as AN/TPY-2 in 2006, the MDA referred to FBM radars as the “forward-based X-band, transportable (FBX-T)” and TM radars as the “THAAD radar.”18

Service history

The United States deployed its first forward-based AN/TPY-2 radar to Shariki, Japan in 2006 and a second FBM radar to Israel in 2008. In 2011, the MDA installed a third radar in Kürecik, Turkey, and a fourth at an unspecified site in “the USCENTCOM area of responsibility.” In 2014, the United States deployed a fifth FBM radar in Kyogamisaki, Japan.19 The U.S. Army operates an additional 7 radars in terminal mode with its existing THAAD batteries, and the United Arab Emirates deployed two TM radars with its THAAD batteries in 2016.


    1. Leonard Halley, “Sensors Directorate Breakout Session,” MDA 20th Annual Small Business Programs Conference, June 24, 2019,
    2. “THAAD Contract Awarded,” Air Defense Artillery (November-December 1992, p. 7.
    3. The Army took delivery of a scaled-down AN/TPY-2 prototype in late 1994, and acquired two full-scale User Operational Evaluation System (UOES) TPY-2 radars in 1996.3Jaganath Sankaran, “Ballistic Missile Defense: Power of X-Band Radars,” Mostlymissiledefense, June 4, 2012,[/note In September 1998, the Army successfully tested the TPY-2 system, accurately tracking a NASA Black Brant rocket and over 180 separate objects and debris.4Louis P. Deeter, “Theater High Altitude Area Defense,” Army RD&A (March-April 1999).

    4. Sankaran 2012.
    5. Sydney Freedberg Jr., “Raytheon Wins MDA Gallium Nitride Radar Deal: Companies Shift To GaN,” Breaking Defense, September 29, 2016,
    6. Emma Helfrich, “GaN-based missile defense radars to be produced under Raython contract,” Military Embedded Systems, June 29, 2020.
    7. Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Pacific Test Flights: Environmental Assessment (Huntsville, AL: U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, December 2002).
    8. PY-2レーダー(「Xバンド・レーダー」)について [On the TPY-2 radar (“X-band radar”)], (Tokyo: Japan Ministry of Defense, April 2013),
    9. Ibid.
    10. Ralph Merrill and Chuck Nickey, “A Silver Bullet — Conquering the Threat,” Air Defense Artillery (November-December 1995), pp. 27 – 39.
    11. Ibid.
    12. “AN/TPY-2: Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance – Model 2,” Raytheon Technologies, 2009,
    13. Jaganath Sankaran, “THAAD Radar Ranges,” Mostlymissiledefense, July 17, 2016,
    14. Lockheed Martin, “THAAD And Aegis BMD Successfully Engage Multiple Targets During Integrated Ballistic Missile Defense System Test,” PRNewswire, September 11, 2013.
    15. Ibid; John K. Warden and Brad Glosserman, “China’s THAAD Gamble Is Unlikely to Pay Off,” The Diplomat, April 15, 2015,
    16. National Research Council, Making Sense of Ballistic Missile Defense: An Assessment of Concepts and Systems for U.S. Boost-Phase Missile Defense in Comparison to Other Alternatives (Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012).
    17. Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, 2014 Assessment of the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS), (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, 2015),; Steven J. Whitmore and John R. Deni, NATO Missile Defense and the European Phased Adaptive Approach: The Implications of Burden Sharing and the Underappreciated Role of the U.S. Army, (Carlisle, PA: United States Army War College Press, Oct 2013).
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Missile Defense Project, "AN/TPY-2 Radar," Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, April 25, 2016, last modified June 30, 2021,