Lockheed Martin [LMT] said Monday it won a U.S. Army contract modification to extend the range of the AN/TPQ-53 (Q-53) radar range as part of a full-rate production configuration.

This update will have the company insert Gallium Nitride (GaN) into the Q-53, which the company said will add power for capabilities like long-range counterfire target acquisition, increase system reliability, and reduce lifecycle ownership costs.

The AN/TPQ-53 Radar System. (Photo: Lockheed Martin.)
The AN/TPQ-53 Radar System. (Photo: Lockheed Martin.)

Q-53 is an advanced electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar that aims to protect troops in combat by detecting, classifying, tracking, and identifying the location of enemy indirect fire like artillery, mortars, or rockets, then pinpointing the position they were fired from.

The radar operates in 90- or 360-degree modes. It is mounted on a five-ton truck and can be moved, deployed, automatically leveled, then operated from either a command vehicle or remotely. It has been fielded by the Army since 2010.

Last year, Lockheed Martin underscored the Q-53’s open architecture software design that allows it to easily upgrade with new mission capabilities, like counter-UAS and links to the Army’s Integrated Battle Cmmand System (IBCS) (Defense Daily, April 25, 2017).

“Lockheed Martin is proud the Army is adding Q-53 to our family of fielded GaN based radars. This modification takes advantage of our broad experience with radar production and next generation radar development experience coupled with Lockheed Martin’s continuous investment in GaN and other radar technologies,” Rick Herodes, director of the Q-53 program at Lockheed Martin, said in a statement.

Herodes added that the update “enables Q-53 mission growth for changing Army needs. We realize how critical it is to enhance the capabilities of the Q-53 so it can be responsive to the evolving operational demands and emerging threats our deployed troops face every day.”

The company said it produces “multiple” Q-53s every year in facilities in New York, New Jersey, and Florida. Over 100 systems have been delivered so far.

The company noted it has been using an “open GaN foundry model” to leverage GaN use in the telecommunications and cell phone markets to keep costs down.

Since GaN is used in telecommunications, Lockheed Martin can leverage relationships with commercial suppliers that themselves use the telecommunications market to drive down GaN costs.

Howard Bromberg, vice president for business development for integrated air and missile defense, told reporters yesterday during the AUSA Annual Meeting that the company is foundry neutral and the GaN use is “something that us driving across out entire product base.”

This means Lockheed Martin does not have to pay for its own foundry operations, but can compete different foundries against each other to get the best GaN and price.

“So the advantage of that is we’re not keeping pace in trying to increase the performance of our GaN, the commercial industry is doing that for us.”