Nothing Goes Unseen .. Raytheon Missiles & Defense advances development of LTAMDS, the U.S. Army’s next-generation radar

Raytheon Missiles‭ & ‬Defense‭, ‬a Raytheon Technologies subsidiary‭, ‬recently gave a name to its family of advanced air and missile‭ ‬defense radars‭: ‬a series of radars with enhanced sensor performance and reliability‭, ‬improving defense capability against the proliferation and evolution of the advanced threats of today and tomorrow‭.‬

A family of radars this revolutionary deserves a name‭. ‬Radars that turn power and performance into a decisive advantage‭. ‬A guardian‭, ‬a defender‭, ‬a radar charged with scanning the skies for otherwise unseen threats at greater distances‭, ‬at higher velocities‭, ‬and from any direction‭.‬

Raytheon named this family of radars GhostEye®‭.‬

The radar that Raytheon Missiles‭ & ‬Defense is building for the U.S‭. ‬Army is known as the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor‭ (‬LTAMDS‭) ‬and is the first radar in the GhostEye family‭.‬

The second in the family‭, ‬and leveraging commonality with the U.S‭. ‬Army’s LTAMDS‭, ‬Raytheon Missiles‭ & ‬Defense has separately‭, ‬yet concurrently‭, ‬developed GhostEye MR‭, ‬a medium-range radar that maximizes the capabilities of the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System‭, ‬or NASAMS‭.‬

So‭, ‬Raytheon’s new name‭, ‬GhostEye‭, ‬establishes the identity of a family of sensors‭, ‬all-seeing radars‭, ‬powered by Gallium Nitride‭, ‬and able to detect otherwise unseen threats at greater distances‭, ‬at higher velocities‭, ‬and from any direction‭.‬

When the first Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensors are delivered to the U.S‭. ‬Army in 2022‭, ‬they will be the latest generation air and missile defense radar‭, ‬providing exceptional capability against proliferating and increasingly stressful threats‭, ‬such as hypersonic missiles‭.‬

Detection from every angle

These radars provide 360-degree coverage and use active electronically scanned array‭, ‬or AESA‭, ‬and gallium nitride‭, ‬or GaN‭. ‬While GaN circuit material is used commercially in everything from LED lightbulbs to smartphones‭, ‬Raytheon Missiles‭ & ‬Defense has a‭ ‬foundry in Massachusetts that produces GaN for military hardware‭.‬

The company has made significant investments over the past two decades in GaN as well as AESA technology and advanced manufacturing‭. ‬GaN strengthens the radar signal and enhances its sensitivity for longer range‭, ‬higher resolution and increased capacity‭.‬

Advancing on track

The radar first came into focus when the U.S‭. ‬Army put out a call for a new‭, ‬advanced radar‭. ‬In the summer of 2019‭, ‬Raytheon Missiles‭ & ‬Defense produced the LTAMDS for the Army’s‭ “‬Sense Off‭” ‬competition where testing at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico included realistic scenarios against real‭ ‬targets and simulated threats‭.‬

The company’s innovative design exceeded requirements and was selected for the government contract in October of that same year‭. ‬Less than five months after being awarded the contract‭, ‬it had built the first radar antenna array and completed indoor testing of the first partially populated LTAMDS radar antenna‭. ‬Within that first year‭, ‬the radar was sensing‭.‬

“The Army set a rigorous and necessary schedule‭,‬”‭ ‬said Bill Patterson‭, ‬LTAMDS program director‭. ‬He added that‭ ‬“the timeline‭…‬is imperative because the threat is evolving and proliferating at a blistering pace‭. ‬The Army asked for an advanced radar‭, ‬and we’re showing them that the radar is on track and on time‭.‬”

Since the company was awarded the contract in October 2019‭, ‬LTAMDS continues to advance through development‭, ‬achieving all key milestones‭. ‬The first radars are planned to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2022‭. ‬That’s six operational radars in just three years from being awarded the contract‭.‬

End-user collaboration

Incorporating the input of personnel who will ultimately operate the radar has been a pivotal part of the defense sensor’s development process‭. ‬To that end‭, ‬Raytheon Missiles‭ & ‬Defense hosted Soldier Touchpoints‭, ‬which are meetings at the company’s facilities and the test site where soldiers see and touch the radar‭, ‬share feedback with its designers and engineers‭, ‬and discuss development and features to ensure the system meets user expectations‭. ‬There have been four such government-industry working‭ ‬groups since the first in September 2020‭.‬

‭”‬Soldier Touchpoint events provide Raytheon Missiles‭ & ‬Defense with an unprecedented opportunity for user involvement‭,‬”‭ ‬said Bob Kelley‭, ‬the company’s U.S‭. ‬Requirements and Capabilities Director‭. ‬The meetings have given Army teams a chance to see the LTAMDS radar up close‭.‬

“Providing the warfighter’s early input has given us an unparalleled ability to deliver the right capability‭, ‬at the right time‭, ‬to the U.S‭. ‬Army‭,‬”‭ ‬said Eric Maule‭, ‬an associate director in U.S‭. ‬Requirements and Capabilities for the company‭. ‬And the Army is clearly invested‭ ‬in its success‭. ‬At one Touchpoint in late 2020‭, ‬it sent a team that included personnel from the Air and Missile Defense test detachment‭, ‬Army Capability management‭, ‬Army Futures Command‭, ‬and the Program Executive Office Missiles and Space‭.‬

“This team was eager to roll up their sleeves and help clarify user concepts of operations and employment requirements‭,‬”‭ ‬Maule said‭. ‬The mere sight of the radar kick-started discussions on a range of topics‭, ‬including tactical deployment‭, ‬equipment‭ ‬readiness‭, ‬and emplacement in addition to the replacement and removal of parts‭, ‬and whenever challenges arose‭, ‬the U.S‭. ‬Army members embedded in the technical and production teams were actively engaged‭.‬

This teamwork highlights a key factor in the radar’s success‭. ‬“Raytheon Missiles‭ & ‬Defense thinks in collective terms‭, ‬as in‭ ‬‘we are in it together’‭ ‬and‭ ‬‘we’re doing it with the Army‭,‬”‭ ‬Kelley said‭. ‬“It is a complete collaboration‭…‬hitting all the marks‭.‬”

In just over two years since contract award‭, ‬LTAMDS moves to White Sands for testing

In April 2022‭, ‬the first LTAMDS arrived at the U.S‭. ‬Army’s White Sands Missile Range‭.‬

This is the first of six radars planned for delivery to the Army in 2022‭ ‬and marks the beginning of a series of extensive tests‭ ‬to prove LTAMDS performance and functionality in an operational environment‭.‬

“Together with the Army‭, ‬we set out to build a radar that could detect and defend against complex and evolving threats while reducing the workload on operators‭ – ‬and we’ve done it with LTAMDS‭,‬”‭ ‬said Tom Laliberty‭, ‬president of Land Warfare‭ & ‬Air Defense‭, ‬a Raytheon Missiles‭ & ‬Defense business unit‭.‬

“LTAMDS provides dramatically more performance against the range of threats‭, ‬from manned and unmanned aircraft to cruise missiles‭ ‬and ballistic missiles‭. ‬Air defense forces around the world are taking notice of LTAMDS‭, ‬with over a dozen countries showing formal interest in acquiring the radar‭,‬”‭ ‬Laliberty added‭.‬

Also in May‭, ‬Polish Minister of Defense‭, ‬Mariusz Błaszczak‭, ‬announced his plans for WISLA Phase 2‭ ‬–‭ ‬signing a letter of request to include a 360-degree radar‭ (‬LTAMDS‭).‬

“Global interest in LTAMDS has been strong and Poland has made a significant first step toward becoming one of the first international customers‭,‬”‭ ‬said Laliberty‭. ‬“Not only will LTAMDS bring an exceptional capability to detect complex and evolving threats to our allied nations‭, ‬but the expansion of our customer base will also offer the benefits of commonality and cost savings as well‭.‬”

The radar is the newest air and missile defense sensor for the U.S‭. ‬Army‭, ‬providing significantly more capacity and capability against the wide range of advancing threats facing air defenders around the world‭.‬

Al Jundi

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