HUNTSVILLE, Ala. –  The Long Range Discrimination Radar that will be operational in Alaska in 2020 is on track despite the aggressive schedule, a Lockheed Martin official said at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium.

Lockheed is 10 months into the program to field a very large and powerful radar to support the ballistic missile defense system, primarily for the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System. It will also be networked to the company's Command, Control Battle Management and Communication (C2BMC) system, Brad Hicks, Lockheed Martin's vice president for Mission Systems and Training, said.

The Missile Defense Agency awarded the contract after an "intense competition" to Lockheed Martin in October 2015, he said. MDA went from coming up with the requirement for the LRDR to awarding the contract in less than two years, which is "fairly unheard of," Hicks added.

"Now we have to deliver," Hicks said, which is to build a "very significant radar that will last 40 years in Alaska."

Lockheed Martin beat out Raytheon and Northrop Grumman to build the radar, a vital component to intercepting possible intercontinental ballistic missiles from North Korea and Iran. MDA awarded Lockheed with a $784 million contract. MDA leaders have called the radar one of their biggest priorities in beefing up homeland ballistic-missile defense.

The LRDR is a Gallium Nitride (GaN)-based, solid-state Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. Lockheed's other GaN projects include the Air Force's Space Fence to be built in Kwajalein Atoll and new long-range radar it expects to bring to market as well as offer to the US Army's potential Integrated Air-and-Missile Defense system radar in competition next year.

The LRDR completed a successful system readiness review in February and an integrated baseline review in April, according to Chandra Marshall, LRDR director at Lockheed. The company is on track to achieve 35 percent of its facilities design review by November and expects a preliminary design review in January 2017.

LRDR construction in Alaska is scheduled to being in 2019, Marshall added.

Additionally, Lockheed will begin integrating the radar into the ballistic missile defense system by the end of the year, according to Rob Smith, vice president of C4ISR at Lockheed.


Twitter: @JenJudson

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.

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