HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Raytheon is honing its focus on addressing the U.S. Army's lethality gap and has become involved in a variety of projects that look to use capability already resident in its business to shore up that gap in the near term.
"We feel like we are really well-positioned, uniquely positioned as Raytheon to help address that gap," Brad Barnard, the director of strategic growth at Raytheon Missile Systems, told Defense News in an interview just ahead of the Association of the United States Army's Global Force Symposium.
Raytheon's technological offerings across the entire lethality business from threat detection to fire control to precision-guided munitions positions the company to contribute to defining requirements as the Army looks at identifying the technical art of the possible to address the lethality gap in combat vehicles.
Raytheon already has experience in fielding a variety of capabilities on combat vehicles, such as the second-generation FLIR system, which is on more than 17,000 vehicles. And it will be fielding a third-generation FLIR on the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle as part of an engineering change proposal.
The company is looking to partner with large vehicle primes from General Dynamics Land Systems to BAE Systems along with other companies that provide technologies such as turrets to offer more seamless, integrated systems for the vehicles in the Army’s fleet, Barnard explained.
The rapid move to focus more on combat vehicle lethality comes at a time when the Army’s combat vehicles program is moving out quickly to upgrade and modernize capability and where real progress is being seen in rapid succession.
Already the Army is preparing to field up-gunned Strykers with 30mm cannons to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Europe as part of an urgent operational need by 2018. That program is progressing rapidly.
In essence, the Army combat vehicle business is a capability area that is moving forward fast, meaning there’s a lot of room for industry to get involved and see lucrative business results in the near term.
The level of competence the Army is exhibiting is promising in the vehicle spectrum, Barnard said. "I think there is demonstrated success, and that is energizing us; also having the natural content where we can help address those lethality gaps."
And already Raytheon is deeply involved in a variety of Army efforts to help get at the lethality requirements the service thinks it needs to be sure it is overmatching its near-peer adversaries.
Raytheon is supporting — as a lethality subject-matter expert — an Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center Mobile Protected Firepower concept development project. Building an MPF capability is part of the near-term requirements to execute the service’s combat vehicle modernization strategy, according to Barnard.
The company met with the 82n Airborne and the 10th Mountain divisions to get a sense of what the units are looking for in an MPF solution, and Raytheon let them know what is in the art of the possible, Barnard said.
The Army’s MPF capability is expected to reach the engineering and manufacturing development stage of the program in the third quarter of 2019, according to a recent industry day. There has been talk about moving the fielding up even further.
The company is also looking independently at how to incorporate and integrate its various systems from missile launchers to fire control systems into "optimized system solutions" for MPF capability, Barnard said.
Raytheon is also involved in the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center’s medium-caliber armaments system cooperative research and development agreement, or CRADA, to define requirements there as well.
The purpose of the CRADA is to examine the art of the possible for a medium-caliber turret system that has the potential to be used across multiple Army platforms in the future to address lethality gaps.
For the CRADA, Raytheon is providing second-generation FLIR gunner’s and commander’s sites, and CMI Defence in Belgium is providing the turret.
While the Army is rapidly up-gunning the Stryker with the General Dynamics Land Systems-led initiative for the 2nd Cavalry, the service would like to look into increasing lethality across the entire Stryker fleet, which doesn’t necessarily mean the current solution will be fielded. The Army has said it is open to looking at other possible solutions.
Raytheon has experience, for instance, with the Javelin anti-tank, shoulder-launched missile, which is also being integrated on the Stryker for the 2nd Cavalry.
"That is kind of really energizing us to get involved," Barnard said, "if there is still space to kind of inform requirements going forward. … When you look at the Stryker fleet or lethality effort that is being framed by the Army, we’ve got a lot of that content," such as Javelin on remote weapon stations or upgrading the TOW launching system.
Looking farther afield, Raytheon is also eyeing how it can help provide technology for the next-generation combat vehicle the Army is looking to field in the 2030s. The service released a market survey on March 7 to identify industry interested in a next-gen combat vehicle prototype project effort.