Lockheed Martin [LMT] and Raytheon [RTN] confirmed Monday they are both advancing in the U.S. Army’s Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensors (LTAMDS) downselect to replace the legacy Patriot missile defense radar system.

LTAMDS seeks to replace the current MPQ-65 Patriot radar.

A year ago Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman [NOC], and Technovative Applications won 15-month technology maturation contracts for LTMADS through the Defense Department’s Ordnance Technology Consortium (DOTC) (Defense Daily, Oct. 20, 2017).

Lockheed Martin’s AESA ARES radar technology demonstrator using gallium nitride (GaN) technology. Photo: Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin’s AESA ARES radar technology demonstrator using gallium nitride (GaN) technology. Photo: Lockheed Martin.

That contract was used to help further define performance requirements, mature technology, and reduce risks for the LTMADS program.

The new downselect moves LTAMDS into the Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction (TMRR) phase, in which the companies will demonstrate program performance via technology demonstrations, using operational arrays and integrated radar prototypes.

A Lockheed Martin official said at a media briefing Monday at the annual Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting that as of last week the government decided to narrow the number of competitors with the next phase in the competition.

Howard Bromberg, the company’s vice president for business development with integrated air and missile defense program, said the company is still sorting through the final requirements but they are “full in on that.”

He said the company is in scope discussions with the Army on how long the TMRR phase will take, but they expect it to last anywhere from one and a half to two years. The TMRR will have normal design events like system requirements review (SRR), preliminary design review, critical design review, buildup of system, and evaluation of the system.

Bromberg disclosed Lockheed Martin has been building models they call fractional arrays to develop the capability. He said this fits the company’s philosophy to build a little and test a lot.

“And as we learn from these fractional arrays that are maybe 15 percent of the size of a tactical array, our engineers learn, Ok, are we meeting the transmit output power that’s required for the tactical system, cooling it effectively, we make our modifications or adjustments, and then we spin the next fractional array,” he said.

The company is on its third fractional array and they are preparing to build a full-size array system that will be finished “in the early part of next year.”

Bromberg said the company’s perspective is LTAMDS will be in the field for 40 years so they are building in a lot of capability, not making some quick replacement to last only 10 years.

“We’re saluting to the Army’s timeline but we’re not giving up capability. We don’t believe they need to give up on capability to meet their accelerated program timelines,” he added.

Bromberg noted a main program priority is speed. While the LTAMDS TMRR will use multiple contractors, “it will help them move fast, because we will get to a point where we can be doing evaluations really as early as next year for capability that can now tie into the finishing of the development program.”

“So forget about these five-six year long development programs that will now take place after TMRR – that’s not the vision going forward. It is finish TMRR and then within the year, you’re on the test pad and you’re qualified,” Bromberg said.

The company is also considering how to design the radar to get maximum effectiveness out of the Patriot Advanced Capability- 3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) interceptor, also built by Lockheed Martin.

Patriot Air and Missile Defense System Radar Photo: Raytheon
Patriot Air and Missile Defense System Radar
Photo: Raytheon

“That’s one of the things we’re putting our thinking caps on, to make sure we can do that, as well as support whatever the Army’s requirements are,” Bromberg said.

Lockheed Martin noted significant international interest in the new Patriot radar as well. Bromberg said part of the TMRR discussions in the concept development phase is how to make the system portable and support international customers early rather than later.

While traditional defense products could sit in U.S. use for over a decade before being ready for export, “we’re building that in now, early, so again scalability comes from a performance aspect. We can modify the product to what the international customers need.”

Relatedly, Raytheon specifically said as LTAMDS moves into TMRR it plans to develop prototyping to reduce risk and mature technology, deliver detailed designs that prove capability and production readiness, and deliver a support plan to the Army’s testing for mobility and sustainability.

“Our expertise in the lower tier air and missile defense domain, combined with our Gallium Nitride based sensor technology, allows us to offer the U.S. Army the radar they need, when they need it,” Tom Laliberty, vice president of integrated air and missile defense at Raytheon’s integrated defense systems business, said in a statement.

Previously Raytheon finished a program and technical review for its LTAMDS in March, when it said it was focusing on delivering a solution that meets operational requirements as fast as possible (Defense Daily, March 27).

The current MPQ-65 Patriot radar is jointly made by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.