The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) acquisition and track radar cued the precision tracking radar through the battle manager near Syracuse, N.Y., in a successful test ahead of a formal flight at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.
“It was a very successful test event, an important step as we continue to gain confidence and reduce risk for an upcoming intercept test later this fall,” Marty Coyne, MEADS International director of business development, said in a media roundtable.
The test took place watched by representatives of the tri-national MEADS development: the U.S. Army, Germany and Italy.
“Everyone out at the demonstration was quite impressed with the capability and maturity of the radar assets,” Coyne said.
“The significance of these type tests is to demonstrate the capability of MEADS–exactly what the three nations asked us to do in the final phase of the program…they want to know exactly what they have since all three are looking at how to harvest portions of the program for their air and missile defense plans in the future.”
Full funding of the final phase, the proof of concept for the MEADS program, is authorized after the U.S. Congress was heavily critical of the program and sought to cut funds. “There are no barriers, financial or any other,” Coyne said.
The MEADS program is developing two advanced radars– a UHF Surveillance Radar and an X-band Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR). Both are active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars and provide 360-degree protection.
During the April 17 tests, the two radars were separated by more than 10 miles. A small test aircraft was flown while at the same time a simulated tactical ballistic missile was injected into the radar. The UHF low frequency sensor acquired and tracked the test aircraft and relayed its location to the MEADS Battle Manager, which sent search commands to the MFCR, which searched the cued area, acquired the target and established a dedicated track.
MEADS International President Dave Berganini said, “The MEADS radars offer greater coverage and flexibility, including complete 360-degree defense to protect military sites and civilians against next-generation threats.”
During the tests, the radars were in full 360-degree rotation mode. MEADS dual frequency radars are best suited for advanced threats, Coyne said. The low frequency UHF radar on the low end is the “perfect “ frequency for search and acquisition, not only long distances and high volume, and also ideal against very small targets. On the other end of the frequencies, the X-band is optimized for actual tracking and fire control. Both of these radars provide threat detection capability against highly maneuverable low-signature threats, including short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and other air-breathing threats.
Additionally, he said, the two frequencies provide a very difficult challenge for an adversary that wouldn’t be able to jam both at the same time.
Using their plug-and-fight capabilities, both radars are designed to act as nodes on the MEADS network or other future integrated air and missile defense networks.
The radars depart for White Sands Missile Range shortly, where they will be integrated and move into more testing to reduce risk in preparation for the fall flight interception test. The MEADS program developed a mobile test lab under the contract that also will be at White Sands for continued testing and injecting of targets.
MEADS International, a multinational joint venture headquartered in Orlando, Fla., is the prime contractor for the MEADS system. Major subcontractors and joint venture partners are MBDA in Italy and Germany, and Lockheed Martin [LMT] in the United States.
Both radars are co-developed with engineers from all three companies. Lockheed Martin is the lead for the low-frequency sensor. The X-band radar lead is MBDA.
The NATO MEADS Management Agency (NAMEADSMA) is in Huntsville, Ala.