Raytheon [RTN] officials have vowed to continue supporting Germany’s Patriot missile batteries, despite learning earlier this week the company lost a bid to provide Germany with its next-generation tactical air and missile defense shield.

MEADS International, which is partnered with Lockheed Martin [LMT] announced Tuesday that Germany chose MEADS as the basis for its TVLS, a next-generation network-based tactical air and missile defense system. The system could replace Raytheon’s Patriot air defense system originally fielded in the 1980s. 

Patriot Fire Unit Photo: Raytheon
Patriot Fire Unit
Photo: Raytheon

The missile giants now are poised to fight for future missile-defense contracts, with Raytheon on the verge of rolling out a significant upgrade to the Patriot’s radar capability. 

Raytheon noted that German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said during Tuesday’s announcement that accepting MEADS was conditional upon the system meeting a series of developmental milestones.

“If these are not met, we have to chance to opt out and move to a different system,” von der Leyen was quoted as saying in German media. “This ensures that the Bundeswehr receives the system it requires for the costs and in the timeframe that has been contractually agreed.”

Tim Glaeser, vice president of business development for Raytheon integrated air and missile defense, told reporters on June 10 the battle was not lost.

“It’s our understanding that they are going to continue the development phase of MEADS,” Tim Glaeser, said. “MEADS still has a long way to go before it’s combat proven. We will continue to work with the German MoD to keep Patriot an alternative solution should MEADS have challenges again in the future.”

Germany is one of 13 nations in a partnership that shares the cost of incrementally upgrading their Patriot missile systems. Germany pays into the partnership and can then benefit from modernization upgrades paid for by all 13 nations, as was the case with a $212 million engineering service contract awarded in March, Raytheon said.

Germany has continued to upgrade its existing Patriot fire units towards the latest configuration and has already embarked on that journey by upgrading to a modern adjunct processor, which greatly enhances the radar’s range and discrimination over legacy capabilities,” the company said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, Raytheon is close to rolling out a bolt-on upgrade to the Patriot missile radar array that will provide advanced, 360-degree air defense coverage while reducing operations cost and improving reliability.

Raytheon has invested $150 million in replacing the gallium arsenide (GaS) in Patriot’s advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) radars with gallium nitrate (GaN). The new material boosts the radar’s performance and reliability while making it more affordable to operate, if more expensive up front.

The upgraded GaN arrays are at technology readiness level eight, meaning they are ready for fielding, Norm Cantin, Raytheon’s director of Patriot AESA programs, said June 10 at the company’s Arlington, Va., office.

The retrofit kits should be in the field sometime in 2018 or 2019, depending on when Raytheon receives firm orders for the upgrades, Cantin said.

“Installing the upgrade will reduce overall operation and maintenance cost by 50 percent, while doubling the reliability of the radar,” Cantin said. “It’s a 360-degree capability not only for surveillance, but also for engagement. So we can shoot missiles to the rear. We can shoot missiles to the front, it doesn’t matter.”


After 600 flight tests of the radar where the system locks onto commercial airliners and arms the missile–which has no motor to actually launch–amid a total 2,500 “test events,” the company is nearing completion of its first production ASEA GaN Patriot Radar.

 “So you know with confidence that if a missile comes at you, you’re going to take it out,” Cantin said.

A Patriot missile battery’s mobile radar has a large array on the front that includes 109 receiver units in its face. Each is an independent, electronically controlled radar antenna that is bi-directional, so it performs both tracking of incoming threats and communication with the interceptor missile.

At the rear of the radar unit are two quarter-sized arrays that provide radar coverage from the sides and rear. All three can be upgraded with AESA GaN or just the main array, Cantin said.

The United States does not have a published requirement to upgrade its Patriot batteries to 360-degree coverage, but some international Patriot users do. Raytheon has received permission to export the AESA GaN technology, but has no firm orders.

Glaeser said there was strong interest from international partners and that the U.S. military “has not said they would not accept it.”

“There are many international customers around the globe that still have a desire or a requirement for 360-degree capability,” Glaeser said.  “So we have listened to them and this is a material solution to meet that operational requirement that some of these nations have.”  

The U.S. Army has no such requirement. But an analysis of alternatives (AoA) is underway to determine how best to upgrade existing Patriot systems, to include everything from incremental upgrades to the radar systems to developing an entirely new missile defense battery.

Of 13 nations that operate Patriot batteries, Germany and Poland have declared requirements for 360-degree radar capability, Glaeser said.

“In a perfect world everyone would want it,” he said. “One of the reasons the arrays to the rear are only a quarter the size of the main array is to drive down the cost again. I’ve always said that if you are surrounded by an enemy that can shoot ballistic missiles at you from 360 degrees, you’ve got a hell of a bigger problem than Patriot’s going to solve.”

But emerging threats like cruise missiles and drones that can maneuver during flight, make the full-circle coverage more attractive to potential customers, he added.

The U.S. government has no hard requirement for the technology, but Cantin said they are thinking about what will keep Patriot relevant for the next 30 years. The missile is scheduled to remain in service through 2048.