The Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR), developed by Lockheed Martin, has passed its Preliminary Design Review (PDR) just 18 months from contract award, the company announced on 20 April. This means that detailed design for the radar – which will support a layered ballistic missile defense strategy to protect the U.S. homeland from ballistic missile attacks – can now proceed. LRDR is a key component of the MDA's Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) and will provide acquisition, tracking and discrimination data to enable separate defence systems to lock on and engage ballistic missile threats.

In 2015, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) awarded a $784 million contract to Lockheed Martin to develop, build and test LRDR, and the company is on track on an aggressive schedule to deliver the radar to Clear, Alaska. Lockheed Martin passed PDR by demonstrating both a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 and Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) 6, putting the team on a path to achieve TRL 7 later this year, thus allowing the programme transition to manufacturing. Lockheed Martin used a scaled LRDR system to successfully demonstrate Critical Technology Elements (CTEs) in a relevant end-to-end environment.

 “The Solid State Radar Integration Site will be used to mature, integrate and test the LRDR design and building blocks before we deliver the radar to Alaska. Using this test site will result in significant cost savings and less risk overall,” Chandra Marshall, LRDR Programme Director at the company, explained.

Similar to Lockheed Martin's SPACE FENCE radar system, LRDR is a high-powered S-Band radar incorporating solid-state gallium nitride (GaN) components, but is additionally capable of discriminating threats at extreme distances, using the inherent wideband capability of the hardware coupled with advanced software algorithms.


The LRDR will provide key functionality for US integrated air and missile defence systems. (Image: Lockheed Martin)

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