Lockheed Martin [LMT] is set to unveil a new air and missile defense radar demonstrator the week of Aug. 6 that will be the basis of the company’s offering to an expected upcoming Army competition for the future Integrated Air and Missile Defense System radar, the company said Aug. 7.
This new radar system, the active electronically scanned array (AESA) Radar for Engagement and Surveillance (ARES), will be presented here at the Space and missile Defense Symposium as a full-scale prototype of technology to support a 360-degree sensor to address emerging air and ballistic missile threats, Lockheed Martin said.
The fractional array is aimed at replacing the Patriot MPQ-65 radar and is “representative of Lockheed Martin’s potential Lower Tier Air & Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS) solution, built on a modular and scalable architecture to scale to the Army’s requirements, once finalized,” the company said. The MPQ-65 is produced by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon [RTN].
The company argues that incremental upgrades to the Patriot radar can no longer address sustainment issues, performance shortcomings, or future growth.
“Lockheed Martin is prepared to offer a next-generation missile defense system that will leverage advances in radar technology to provide a modular, scalable architecture and reduce the total cost of ownership well over its 30-year lifecycle,” Mark Mekker, director of next generation radar systems at Lockheed Martin, said in a statement.
The AESA technology uses gallium nitride (GaN) transmitter technology combined with advanced signal processing techniques like 360-degree sensor/fire control algorithms based on advanced threat sets. The company argued that be fully integrating these technologies into demonstration and production radar systems, it is the first to field ground-based radars with GaN technology.
AESA is currently used by the Lockheed Martin-designed and built AN/TP/Q-53 radar system, the company said.
Lockheed Martin officially entered the Patriot radar replacement competition in 2016, after the Army issued a request for information (RFI) for the research and development effort seeking to integrate a GaN array antenna on to a baseline Patriot battery. The Army noted it was previously conducting market research only and that material solutions that would meet their objectives for the new radar should have an average production unit cost of under $50 million. The service has still not followed up the initial RFI.
The House’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2018 (H.R. 2810) looks to jump-start the process by directing the Secretary of the Army to issue an acquisition strategy for a LTAMDS by April 15, 2018 that would achieve an initial operational capability (IOC) by Jan. 2022 and complete Army unit field testing by Jan. 2026.
However, the White House’s July Statement of Administration Policy for the bill said those requirements and timelines are not feasible. “They would prevent the Army from developing LTAMDS integrally as part of its phased modernization approach for integrated air and missile defense based on Army and Joint Staff validated requirement,” the White House said.
The Trump administration also opposed the NDAA provision transferring the acquisition responsibility of the LTAMDS to the Missile Defense Agency if the Army does not complete the strategy in time.
Mekker said Lockheed Martin’s radar offering is not a new-start program but “a combination of technology maturation over several years and includes capability leveraged from our current development programs and battlefield-proven radars.”
“We rely heavily on our modern radar systems such as the Q-53 and the Long Range Discrimination Radar to rapidly bring low-risk, proven technology to the warfighter. We look forward to the opportunity to participate in this competition that will ultimately drive up performance and reduce costs for the U.S. Army,” Mekker added.
Earlier, Raytheon completed a testing period for its own AESA radar with GaN technology that could be integrated into the Patriot Engagement Control System in April.