Northrop Grumman [NOC] delivered the first AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) with gallium nitride (GaN) antenna technology to the Marine Corps on July 18, nearly a month ahead of schedule, company officials said July 26.

The advanced G/ATOR system is the seventh to be delivered to the Air Force since 2017, and the first of nine GaN-enabled radars ordered under a second $369 million low-rate initial production contract.

AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR). Photo: Northrop Grumman
AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR). Photo: Northrop Grumman

“The Marine Corps are the first to take delivery of a production ground based multi mission AESA radar that incorporates this advanced GaN technology,” Roshan Roeder, vice president of Northrop Grumman’s Land & Avionics C4ISR division, said in a statement. “The incorporation of this advanced technology in production radars is unique to the Marine Corps and enables G/ATOR to provide additional mission capability to the warfighter at an affordable cost.”

G/ATOR is an active electronically scanned radar system that provides 360-degree situational awareness to detect airspace disturbances, including adversary aircraft, helicopters, drones and cruise missiles.

An initial $345 million LRIP order was placed for six systems enabled with gallium arsenide (GaAs) semiconductor technology, rather than the more advanced GaN.

All future deliveries will include the GaN antenna technology, which Marine Corps officials said is more efficient and improves operational reliability.

“First, GaN based Transmit/Receive (T/R) modules operate at a significantly higher efficiency and are designed to provide significantly higher output power while generating less heat than the T/R modules they replaced which is anticipated to increase reliability,” Roy Barnhill, the Marines’ deputy program manager for G/ATOR, told Defense Daily. “Second, with higher output per module, G/ATOR achieves the same effective radiated power as a radar using GaAs based T/R modules using fewer T/R modules, thus accounting for real savings in each radar’s procurement cost. Lastly, GaN technology allows the use of a significantly cheaper manufacturing process reducing the production cost even further.”

Northrop Grumman’s planned delivery date was Aug. 15, but the company was able to offer the enhanced system a month ahead of schedule.

“The USMC Program Office offered a financial incentive to provide the system by 15 August 2018 to support program milestones and [Northrop Grumman] built margin into their schedule to ensure they could receive the incentive,” Barnhill said.

Barnhill said the Marine Corps expects to award full-rate production contract for G/ATOR in the third quarter of fiscal year 2019.