A day after the AUSA conference where it rolled out a mock up of its Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS), Raytheon announced that it had been selected by the Army to build the new radar that will replace the Patriot air and missile defense system’s current radar. The company will build six prototypes by the end of fiscal 2022.
The US $384 million contract, to deliver six production-representative units of the LTAMDS, was officially awarded on October 16. Northrop Grumman as well as a Lockheed Martin- Elta Systems team were the other companies in the fray for the contract.
Bob Kelley, Raytheon’s director for integrated air and missile defense in its Integrated Defense Systems division, told reporters that the company would seek government approval for international sales of the radar ” that has the capability to deal with day after tomorrow’s threats.” The improvements made in the company’s manufacturing capabilities allow it much greater capacity than in the past, he added.
The Patriot system’s current radar “is an exceptionally capable radar against today’s threats an even tomorrow’s threats,”Kelley said. The company had initially thought about a radar upgrade but decided on a clean sheet, bottom-up approach considering the advanced nature of current and future threats.
LTAMDS is Raytheon’s first radar built with next-generation gallium nitride (GaN) technology. Over the last 20 years, the company has invested in developing semiconductor technology based on GaN. Radars with GaN circuits emit stronger signals and boast greater sensitivity. The use of the technology helped the company meet the challenge of significantly increasing power levels of the radar without increasing size, Kelley said. The technology can be applied to the company’s other radars as well, he added.
The system, which has been designed for the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense network, expands battlespace coverage to protect soldiers from advanced air and missile threats. The sensors provide 360-degrees of threat detection capability, which the company has been playing up with its “No time for a blind spot,” catch line. “Everything that you want a radar to do, it can do that simultaneously in all directions at all times,” said Kelley.
The active electronically scanned array radar has been designed to suit all existing interceptors as well as to support those that will be deployed in the future. Designed with active input from air and missile defense defenders, the radar is the easiest in the battlefield to operate and maintain, claimed Kelley. The soldier-friendly design of the radar would make it easier for soldiers to get used to it faster than any other radar, he added.
The radar has been designed in such a way that it would be possible to upgrade it if the need arises. “This is a 30-40 year radar at least,” said Kelley “The radar has to be able to evolve faster than the threats in the future. ”
Raytheon worked with six technology suppliers -Crane Aerospace & Electronics, Cummings Aerospace, IERUS Technologies, Kord Technologies, Mercury Systems and nLogic – to make the radar happen.
The Patriot radar was first used in the 1980s and has since been upgraded by Raytheon to handle current-day threats. After initially considering Lockheed Martin’s Medium Extended Air Defense System as a re[placement, the Army dropped the idea and decided on a competition, in 2017, to replace the radar. Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Technovative Applications were asked to present their case. Late last year, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin were asked to come up with design concepts for a new missile defense radar. Earlier this year, the service held a “sense-off” at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, before selecting Raytheon’s offering.
By Arun Sivasankaran
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