WASHINGTON — Raytheon has run into problems building the first prototypes of the U.S. Army’s new air-and-missile defense radar that will replace the Patriot system’s sensor, but the service still aims to deliver four of them by the end of 2023.
“The LTAMDS program continues to adjust schedules to mitigate system integration challenges and supply chain issues caused by COVID supply chain issues,” the Army’s Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space told Defense News in a statement.
The Army “will continue to make necessary test schedule adjustments to meet the congressional mandate of fielding one LTAMDS Battalion (four sensors) by December 2023,” the office said.
Raytheon was awarded a $384 million contract in October 2019 to develop and build six urgent materiel release versions of the system, the Army noted. Four of them will be used to satisfy Congress’s intent to field an urgent capability.
The program experienced a variety of schedule slips, some roughly by a year, according to the fiscal year 2023 Army budget justification documents.
While the Army originally planned to begin product representative unit manufacturing in the first quarter of FY20, that did not start until the first quarter of FY21. Plans to wrap up manufacturing would have ended in the fourth quarter of FY22 but that has now moved to the fourth quarter of FY23.
Qualification testing originally planned to begin in the first quarter of FY22 and end in the fourth quarter of FY22 will not begin until the fourth quarter of FY22. But testing will end in the first quarter of FY23, according to the documents.
Development testing that was supposed to happen in FY22 will not take place until the third quarter of FY23 and an operational test event will happen in the second quarter of FY23 rather than in the third quarter of FY22.
An operational assessment and integrated fires campaign will take place starting the third quarter of FY23 and will wrap up in the fourth quarter of FY23.
According to FY22 justification books, the Army had planned to reach an initial operational capability in the fourth quarter of FY22, but now plans to issue an urgent materiel release one year later than that.
The Army is now planning to make a production decision for LTAMDS in the first quarter of FY24, the budget documents note.
“The LTAMDS prime vendor, Raytheon, provides regular updates to the schedule and continues to coordinate with the U.S. government to make necessary test schedule adjustments to meet warfighter requirements and the congressional mandate,” the Army included in its statement.
In an interview this March, Brig. Gen. Robert Rasch, program executive officer for Army missiles and space, told Defense News that the service was about to receive the first of the LTAMDS radars, expected in April, to begin government testing at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
The Army has been working toward a replacement for the Raytheon-made Patriot system for well over a decade, but along with the LTAMDS radar, it is closing in on bringing some key capabilities of its future system to bear this year.
The linchpin of the Army’s future Integrated Air and Missile Defense System – the Northrop Grumman-made Integrated Battle Command System, or IBCS – will complete its critical initial operational test and evaluation in 2022.
A full-rate production decision on the command-and-control system is expected in FY23.
The Army is also accelerating its plans to replace Lockheed Martin-made Patriot missiles. The service will make a contract award to a single vendor through a competitive process in the third quarter of FY26, but will begin the process in mid-FY23.
Plans for a future launcher have yet to materialize, and the Army is conducting analyses and evaluating what will be needed for the system.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.