The Arthur is a radar system that can detect objects no larger than a medium-size coin. The sharp-eyed system is the result of successful Norwegian-Swedish collaboration. The Arthur system is currently used by, for example, the Swedish, Norwegian and British armed forces.
On a Tuesday in April of 1999, the first Arthur radar system units were delivered. The location was well-chosen: the Fredriksten fortress in Halden, where Swedish King Karl XII fell in 1718. Sweden and Norway were at war at the time, but the two neighbouring countries are now intimately involved in a defence alliance, which was marked by the ceremonious event. The new radar system had been developed in close collaboration between Swedish Ericsson Microwave Systems and its Norwegian subsidiary, Ericsson Radar in Halden.
The Arthur (derived from Artillery Hunting Radar) is an electronically controlled, artillery localisation radar system. It can localise enemy fire at a distance of up to 60 kilometres. This means for example, that the position of a sniper and the point in time of the most recent shot can be calculated with Arthur. When Sarajevo was under fire during the Balkan hostilities, the UN wanted to immediately deploy the Arthur system. This was considered by Ericsson, but the company determined that unfortunately, the system was not fully developed and not yet ready for deployment.
Originated in the 1980s
The idea for the Arthur originated in the early 1980s. Systems from other countries, such as the US, were considered to be unsuited for the Swedish terrain. Ericsson and PEAB both wanted the contract to produce a new system. The project was delayed several times and the final tender was not submitted until 1987. At the time, Ericsson Microwave Systems was fully occupied with among other things, development of the new generation of the Giraffe system, including the Sea Giraffe, and the final tender was not printed and sorted into binders until the evening before the deadline. The next day it was flown to Stockholm with secretary Britt Hansen and submitted with just an hour to spare.
According to hearsay, PEAB was convinced that Ericsson lacked the resources at the time to develop artillery localisation radar, and the military’s announcement that Ericsson had won the contract was met with both surprise and dismay. A joint order was subsequently placed by the Swedish and Norwegian armed forces.
A unique project
This was the first time that Sweden and Norway had worked together in developing, producing and delivering a defence system, making the Arthur project unique. The system incorporated a high degree of embedded automation. Without any action on the part of the operator, it can detect, localise and classify targets, which can be artillery rounds, mortar projectiles or missiles. All information is automatically relayed to a combat command centre.
The radar system was installed in Hägglund’s BV 208 all-terrain carrier. At the beginning of the 1990s, field testing and evaluation of the Arthur system were conducted with good results. In December of 1996, Ericsson received an order valued at SEK 650 million for delivery of multiple units of the system to the Norwegian and Swedish armed forces. A year later, the system was also purchased by the Danish military. As mentioned previously, the first units were delivered in April of 1999 and in the presence of the Norwegian and Swedish ministers of defence. Over the years, the Arthur system has been upgraded and improved, and is now used at several locations around the world, including along the heavily guarded border between North and South Korea. South Korea bought the system in 2009 to increase safety and security for the country’s population in consideration to the tense conditions that exist between the neighbouring countries. The Arthur system can warn Seoul within 90 seconds in the event of an imminent attack on the capital, which is considerably faster than comparable systems and increases the safety and security of South Koreans in their day-to-day lives.