By Ann Roosevelt

Raytheon [RTN] yesterday said the Joint Land attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) successfully completed Orbit preliminary design review (PDR), a key milestone for the Army program expected to provide cruise missile defense.

The four-day Orbit PDR reviewed all aspects of JLENS design maturity and confidence.

The JLENS Orbit is comprised of the four prime items, the fire control radar, the surveillance radar, the platform and the communication and processing group (CPG). These prime items each had PDRs leading up to the Orbit (System) PDR, the company said.

The PDR is a milestone in the $1.4 billion system design and demonstration (SDD) contract under which two JLENS Orbits are being delivered. System testing is scheduled to begin in 2010 with SDD program completion in 2012.

JLENS is expected to provide long-duration, wide-area, over-the-horizon detection and tracking of incoming cruise missiles while also supplying the battlefield commander with situational awareness and elevated communications capabilities to provide sufficient warning to enable air defense systems to engage and defeat threats.

Each JLENS Orbit consists of two systems: a surveillance system and a fire control system, which includes an elevated long-range surveillance radar and an elevated high- performance fire control radar. Each radar is integrated onto a large aerostat tethered to the ground-based mobile mooring station and communications processing group.

"We’ve progressed on schedule and within budget in a very rapid and disciplined manner since SDD was awarded only 14 months ago," Pete Franklin, vice president, National & Theater Security Programs for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, said in a statement. "The success of Orbit PDR affirms that JLENS is ready to move forward with detailed design."

Lt. Col. Stephen Wilhelm, JLENS product manager, Army Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space, said: "JLENS provides a key capability to the warfighter. Orbit PDR is the latest in a string of rapid fire milestone successes for the JLENS program and continues to reaffirm our confidence that this critical cruise missile defense capability is on track to be provided to our warfighters as planned."

In December 2006, the Army awarded the five-year $1.4 billion contract modfication to Raytheon defining the SDD phase of work (Defense Daily, Dec. 18, 2006).

The Defense Department approved the JLENS SDD move in August 2005. At that time, DoD submitted a JLENS baseline acquisition cost estimate of $7.1 billion. The baseline was submitted in DoD’s Selected Acquisition Report (SAR) submission to Congress for the September 2005 reporting period.

The current schedule is about two years later than service plans back in 2001.

In January 2003, then-Army acquisition chief Claude Bolton approved a spiral development JLENS program to deliver three spiral products in 2005, 2007, and 2009. Spiral-1 was a 35-meter class aerostat. The government skipped the planned 35–meter Spiral 2 and moved directly to a 70-meter class aerostat, referring to it as Spiral 2. This is under the current Raytheon contract. This JLENS is to be deployable in a contingency in 2011.