MONS Correspondent Marty Kauchak files this end-of-the-day report from the Space and Missile Defense (SMD) Symposium, Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
According to Jim Bedingfield, Director of Missile Defense Programs at Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems Business, AN/TPY-2 is the world’s most capable, mobile radar. He explained: “It provides high resolution data, long range acquisition, precision track, and discrimination of all classes of ballistic missiles in a deployable X-band standalone system - that is primed directly to the US government to support missile defence systems across the US Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS), including Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) and Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD).”
As an additional point of reference, AN/TPY-2 operates in two modes: in forward-based mode, AN/TPY-2 serves as an early warning radar. It is capable of tracking all classes of ballistic missile threats continuously to provide critical discrimination of threats vs. non-threats; and in terminal mode, AN/TPY-2 serves as the sole fire control radar in the THAAD weapon system, used to search, acquire track and assess for THAAD, as the "eyes" of the THAAD system.
As of 1 July, Raytheon had delivered 14 AN/TPY-2 radars to the US government, seven as the prime radar contractor for the THAAD and five for Forward BMDS sensors. Two additional AN/TPY-2 radars were delivered to MDA in support of a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) THAAD case. “We continue to see strong domestic and international interest in AN/TPY-2 and are partnering with the Missile Defense Agency [MDA] on evolving this unique and critical radar to meet the needs of our customers,” Bedingfield observed. “We're also working some localization efforts with prospective partners as enabled by the US government.”
He declined to name names of current and prospective AN/TPY-2 FMS customers.
AN/TPY-2 is a “front line system.” It has been deployed by the Pentagon to Japan, Israel and other nations and supported MDA's successful May ICBM intercept test. The Raytheon programme executive added: “While we defer sensitive details of current deployments to the US government, Raytheon partners with the MDA – and other branches of the US military – to provide our radar to our partners and allies to help them defend their critical military and national assets, and ultimately their national sovereignty.”
The industry expert also commented on the current and evolving AN/TPY-2 technology baseline. He initially pointed out, “Along the surface of its antenna, transmit and receive modules generate and capture electromagnetic waves that enable the radar to sense or see its complex environment.”
More significant, an April 2017 US MDA contract paved the way for AN/TPY-2 to use Raytheon’s gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor technology in TPY-2 antenna components. “GaN transmit/receive modules will amplify signal power beyond what was previously possible, creating a radar that sees further and address ballistic missiles sooner, and in greater raid scenarios,” Bedingfield explained.
And beyond GaN technology enhancements, X86 microprocessors upgrades provide increased computing resources enabling the latest tracking and discrimination algorithms to counter evolving threats. “Additionally, new digital receiver exciter technology enables increased resolution, larger detection processing windows, and advanced waveforms to increase raid capacity and counter sophisticated threats,” he remarked.
The Raytheon official returned to the return on investment case for AN/TPY-2 – from an operational perspective. A forward-based AN/TPY-2 greatly enhances any layered defence architecture through threat acquisition far beyond a weapon system’s nominal range. This translates into increased performance during raids, higher altitude intercepts and a better defended area. “As an example, the forward-based AN/TPY-2 extended the battlespace during FTM-15 [Flight Test-Standard Missile-15] by enabling a Standard Missile-3 to launch on remote and intercept a separating Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile,” he continued. “Most recently, during FTG-15 [Flight Test Ground-Based Interceptor-15], the forward-based AN/TPY-2 radar provided early acquisition and tracking of the threat complex to cue the Sea-Based X-band (SBX) radar.”