Raytheon’s [RTN] the joint land attack cruise missile defense elevated netted sensor system (JLENS), has successfully been tested by Army, Navy and now Air Force systems, officials said.

A JLENS system is an elevated, persistent, over-the-horizon sensor system using two tethered 74 meter aerostats, designed to fly at 10,000 feet. One aerostat carries a surveillance radar that continuously scans 360 degrees. The other aerostat carries an X-band radar allowing more precise information than can put fire control quality data on a network for weapons systems.

The JLENS has a 550 km instrumented range–a 1,100 kilometer diameter circle, said Dean Barten, Army JLENS product manager, during a teleconference yesterday. “That’s the size of Texas.”

During the July 17 test, for the first time, the Army’s JLENS acquired and tracked an anti-ship cruise missile surrogate and passed targeting data to an Air Force F-15E via Link 16, enabling the pilot to fire an AIM-120C7 AMRAAM, culminating in the weapon intercepting the target, meeting all test objectives.

“JLENS has proven it can defend and extend the battlespace by integrating with Patriot, Standard Missile-6, and now (Advanced Medium-Range Air-To-Air Missile) AMRAAM,” Barten said. “This test enhances the cruise missile defense umbrella, and when this capability is deployed, it will help save lives.”

JLENS                       Photo: U.S. Army

Last year, JLENS fire control data was successfully used by the Army Patriot system, and the Navy Standard Missile-6.  Barten said the Army and Air Force both use Link 16 for fire control data, while the Navy which also uses Link 16 has a separate network specific to cruise missile engagement, the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC). JLENS also uses CEC to communicate between aerostats and its ground element. Raytheon produces CEC.

Doug Burgess, Raytheon’s JLENS program director said it is really hitting the trifecta, with land, sea and air intercepts over multiple communications links, showing joint interoperability.

Raytheon produces Patriot, Standard Missile and AMRAAM missiles.

“It’s very important for us to show we are a joint capability and a very big deal that at this point we are three-for-three in engagements,” Barten said. “It’s a very challenging technical achievement for us to do, using three completely different networks across three different services is a huge success.”

The July test also was the first test completely operated by soldiers. Soldiers recently conducted Early User Testing after learning to operate the system (Defense Daily, July 25). 

“Integrating AMRAAM with JLENS enables the world’s most capable air-to-air missile to engage targets at the weapon’s maximum kinematic range,” said Harry Schulte, vice president of Raytheon Missile Systems’ Air Warfare Systems.

Jim Sweetman, Raytheon AMRAAM deputy program director said AMRAAM has more than nine recorded combat kills. It is integrated on a variety of platforms in the Air Force, Navy and Marines and it is used by more than 36 countries. While it is an air-launched missile, there is also a surface launch capability.

JLENS developmental testing is wrapping up. More certification tests will be conducted and completed by the end of September at the Utah Test and Training Range. JLENS moves to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., for operational testing under the auspices of U.S. Northern Command in 2014.

Raytheon built the Army a second JLENS “orbit,” as the system of two aerostats and two radars is called. The Army now has decided to store that second orbit and “leave it in a state that could be deployed at any time,” Barten said.