In a notice posted on the US government’s contracting website last month, the Air Force Materiel Command announced the Air Force Sustainment Center Operating Location Ogden of Hill AFB is conducting market research to determine the ”availability, interest, and capability of potential business sources qualified and able to compete for a contract to provide two realistic launchers,” which are apparently a mock-up of Russian-built S-300PMU systems.
“Headquarters, Utah Test and Training Range require a vendor to manufacture two high-fidelity SA-20 Transport/Erector/Launcher (TEL) surrogates for use on the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR),” an Air Force Materiel Command notice states.
Among the requests is the need to “replicate the physical threat representative multi-spectral (Electro-Optical, Infrared, and Radar Cross Section [RCS]) signatures located in close proximity to the radar signal emitter.” The Air Force also included images of existing mockups of the version based on the 8x8 MAZ-7910 heavy truck chassis as an example of what they want.
"High-fidelity surrogates are necessary to provide training of cognitive skills to live air crews," AFMC's contracting announcement explained. "New advancements in technology require these surrogates to be signature accurate to assist in training."
There is no requirement for the mock TELs to be mobile themselves, with the contracting notice very clearly outlining a requirement that two personnel be able to make them ready for transport to any location within the UTTR within 30 minutes. After arriving, two individuals must be able to set them up within 30 minutes.
The surrogate TELs could help the Air Force simulate a more complete S-300PMU-1/2 system within the UTTR without the difficulty and expense of acquiring and maintaining actual examples, adding valuable extra realism to any testing to evaluate the performance of sensors. However, the contracting documents do not say that the mock TELs are supposed to reflect any particular potential opponent or threat environment.