Raytheon [RTN] yesterday said its Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor (JLENS) recently simultaneously detected and tracked tracked double-digit swarming boats, hundreds of cars and trucks, non-swarming boats and manned and unmanned aircraft.

JLENS is an elevated, persistent over-the-horizon sensor system using an integrated radar system to detect, track and target a variety of threats. The system is expected to be less expensive and personnel intensive than current solutions. For example, an Army JLENS program office study found that operational costs of JLENS were some five to seven times less than using large, fixed-wing aircraft.

The swarming boats, zodiacs and fishing boats assembled and maneuvering on the Great Salt Lake were similar to swarming boats in the inventories of hostile navies in high-threat regions of the globe, simulated a real-world scenario with a series of tactical maneuvers at low and high speeds, Mark Rose, director, JLENS, for Raytheon, told Defense Daily.

The surveillance and fire control systems worked “flawlessly,” Rose said, detecting, tracking and putting that data on the network.

The aircraft and other vehicles JLENS tracked were similar to the other kinds of systems that might operate near busy waterways.

“JLENS’ 360-degree long-range surveillance capability expands the battle space because JLENS can simultaneously detect and engage threats like swarming boats and anti-ship cruise missiles from up to 340 miles away,” said Dean Barten, the Army’s JLENS program manager.

Detecting and tracking varieties of targets simultaneously was a first for the system that has been incrementally increasing the complexity of its capability, moving from detecting one kind of target to numbers of different targets.

“This test proved JLENS can help keep important chokepoints free from the growing threat of swarming boats by detecting them from hundreds of miles away in a congested environment, enabling commanders to take appropriate action,” said David Gulla, vice president of Global Integrated Sensors for Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems business. “This success, which comes on the heels of a JLENS-enabled intercept of an anti-ship cruise missile, demonstrates that JLENS is ready to deploy for a Combatant Commander operational evaluation.”

The Defense Department has decided to move forward with a Combatant Commander operational evaluation, but has yet to determine which command and when. There is funding to pay for such an exercise (Defense Daily, Aug. 14).

“We anticipate a decision in the near term,” Rose said.

Soldiers have been operating the JLENS system since the spring, Rose said, and developmental tests consisted of two days–one day where the system was operated by the contractor, one day soldiers operated the system.  

“We did not have a single system abort” during the tests, he said.

Soldiers now are wrapping up an early user test that ends this month, in preparation for a Limited User Test run by the Army Test and Evaluation Command that will take place in the spring.