The Olympic ideal of radars
US Army selects Raytheon to compete in the Sense-Off tech challenge
It takes years of training to get to the Olympics. Make that a decade or more if it's the Olympics of radars.
The U.S. Army has chosen Raytheon as one of the select few firms that will participate in its Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor program's "Sense-Off" event. The equivalent of a gold medal: the contract for LTAMDS, the anti-missile radar that will replace the current PatriotTM system unit and serve the Army for the next fifty years.
Raytheon will place into the LTAMDS competition a brand-new radar designed from the ground up to meet the increasingly complex and advanced challenges of tomorrow's technology.
“We've been waiting for this opportunity to show what we've got,” said Raytheon's Doug Burgess, director of the LTAMDS program. “The Army is saying, ‘Show me what you’ve got, show me the radar.' And we’re saying we’re ready.”
Timing is everything
The company's key competitive advantage is its deep, years-long investment in developing semiconductor technology based on gallium nitride, the substance better known as GaN. Circuitry based on GaN can be used to build radars that emit stronger signals and boast greater sensitivity.
The tech has already been used to enhance the Patriot Guidance Enhanced Missile – Tactical ballistic missile, or GEM-T. GEM-T is used against aircraft and tactical ballistic and cruise missiles, and uses GaN-based transmitters that will not need to be recertified over the life of the missile.
The Sense-Off is intended to speed development of the Patriot replacement radar to complete a modernization program as early as 2022.
“The Army faces a credible air and missile defense threat," according to Bob Kelley, Raytheon's director of IAMD Domestic Programs for Business Development & Strategy.
Going for the gold
There's no silver or bronze in the radar Olympics.
“This is in effect for the win,” Burgess said.
Raytheon has two goals for the Sense-Off:
- To show the Army what its LTAMDS can do;
- To submit a proposal that meets the Army's timeline. These key factors will be used by the Army to evaluate the LTAMDS proposals in May and June. Shortly after, a selection to a single vendor is expected.
It’s been a long road to get here, but Burgess said all the prep will mean a better result.
“This is not an upgrade to Patriot," he said. “This is a whole new radar.”