WASHINGTON —The Department of Defense Ordnance Technology Consortium (DOTC) has awarded contracts to four companies to come up with concept designs that will help inform the Army’s requirements for a Patriot air-and-missile defense radar replacement.
Because of their previous involvement, it’s no shock both Raytheon and Lockheed received contracts, awarded last Friday to conjure up concepts for the new radar. Northrop Grumman also confirmed to Defense News that it “is participating in the TMRR phase of LTAMDS competition,” according to a company spokesman.
But, according to several sources, another company Technovative Applications, based in Brea, California, just popped up on the radar, receiving a contract from the Army as well.
After spending years debating when and how it will replace its current Raytheon-manufactured Patriot system’s radar with one that can detect threats coming from any direction, the Army decided to hold a competition for a brand new 360-degree, lower-tier AMD sensor earlier this year.
Replacing the radar grows more critical as the Army looks at dealing with a different threats: ones that fly slower, faster or maneuver differently. Threats are smaller and more lethal now. A radar that can detect reliably in a 360-degree field of view is necessary to handle increasingly complex threats.
The journey to replace the radar has been a long one. At one point, the Army planned to procure Lockheed Martin’s Medium Extended Air Defense System as the replacement, but canceled its plans to acquire the system, opting instead to procure key components of a new Integrated AMD separately.
The contracts are expected to last over 15 months.
Lockheed Martin plans to take the funding and continued company investment to mature its Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar for Engagement and Surveillance (ARES) prototype it unveiled in August at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama, according to Mark Mekker, the company’s director of next generation radar systems.
The company’s concept for a future radar is truly 360-degrees, Mekker told Defense News.
During the concept phase, Mekker said, there is a lot of mature technology and radars with 360-degree capability that could be built today, so the idea is to push the concepts beyond in terms of how to scale the system, for example, in a way that makes it more mobile on a fast-paced battlefield.
Mekker said the Lockheed strategy for the concept is focused on a distributed architecture, using building blocks to scale the system up and down and also to avoid having single points of failure in the system; the radar would keep working even if some of the building block-like components went down.
The effort will also look at how the radar can tie directly into the larger missile defense network, essentially a sensor on the net, without using something like an additional interface to connect it to the command and control system.
Raytheon has developed a next-generation AESA Gallium Nitride (GaN) radar for its Patriot system that is fully functional and made its public debut over a year ago at the AUSA Global Force Symposium.
“Raytheon looks forward to meeting the warfighter’s needs by leveraging our experience in [IAMD] and the more than $300 million invested in developing and maturing our AESA GaN technology over the past 17 years,” according to a company statement.
The Army is currently aiming – roughly – to field the technology in the mid-20s, according to Barry Pike, the program executive officer for Army Missiles and Space who spoke to Defense News last week at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting.
The service believes the fundamental technology to build a radar is mature, he acknowledged, but the service wants “to integrate all the piece parts, and you have to integrate with the multiplicity of system that we are trying to pull together into the overall architecture. So generally speaking, those end up being in a fairly comprehensive test program.”
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.