WASHINGTON — The Air Force plans to cancel Raytheon’s contract for a next-generation ground-based radar after years of technical difficulties and will look for new options to replace it, a service spokeswoman said Wednesday.
“The Air Force is changing its acquisition strategy for the Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR) program and will take actions to conclude its current engineering and manufacturing development contract,” said Air Force spokeswoman Patty Welsh in a statement.
“The current contractor experienced numerous technical and supplier challenges in the development of their radar that extended the schedule,” she said. “Current market research shows that due to advancements in technology, other alternatives are now available that can deliver the capability faster.”
The Air Force plans to hold an industry day on Feb. 4 at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., and release a solicitation for a replacement to Raytheon’s radar “shortly” afterwards, Welsh added.
Inside Defense was the first to report the news on the program cancellation.
Raytheon won the 3DELRR contract in 2017 after a protracted battle against competitors Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. The system was slated to replace the AN/TPS-75 ground-based radar used to detect and track airborne targets.
The 3DELRR, as envisioned by Raytheon, was a gallium nitride-based radar that operated on the C-band, a frequency the company said was less congested.
Raytheon was first selected as the provider for 3DELRR in October 2014, but Northrop and Lockheed quickly lodged protests over the decision with the Government Accountability Office. Days before the protest window was to run out, the Air Force voluntarily announced it would re-evaluate the contract award, a move seen as a sign that the service expected the GAO to side with one of the protesting companies.
As a result, Raytheon lodged a suit against the service, one which was ultimately rejected by a U.S. court. The Air Force then relaunched the competition, with Raytheon once again nabbing the $52.6 million fixed-price-incentive-firm contract for the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the program.
At the time of the contract award, Air Force officials indicated that a replacement to the AN/TPS-75 radar had been highly anticipated.
“We are excited about what the future holds, particularly as it relates to the performance and affordability of 3DELRR,” said Lt. Col. Michael Alexander, then the deputy program manager for 3DELRR, according to a 2017 news release.
Aaron Mehta in Washington contributed to this report.
Valerie Insinna is Defense News' air warfare reporter. She previously worked the Navy/congressional beats for Defense Daily, which followed almost three years as a staff writer for National Defense Magazine. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Tokyo Shimbun’s Washington bureau.