Lockheed Martin is building some of the world’s biggest radars. The AN/FSY-3 Space Fence, to be operational in 2019, and Long Range Discrimination Radar, to be in service in 2020, are each projected to be on the order of 25 times the size of one AEGIS SPY-1 variant antenna. The company is looking beyond these massive radars which are meeting today’s defence requirements, to deliver next-generation radars that are, “super small, super scalable, and antennas that are hardware- and software-defined on the need of the user, and use a lot less size, weight and power [SWAP],” according to Dr Tony DeSimone, PhD, the Vice President for Engineering Technology at Lockheed Martin RMS Moorestown.
The industry expert noted several years ago, Lockheed Martin started to migrate agility, open architecture and other attributes of software into its radar technology from a hardware perspective: “The scalability of all of our solid-state radars is also based on an open architecture module philosophy, in the sense that we are one of the unique radar providers in that we have an ‘open foundry model’ – we don’t have a foundry of our own.”
This business strategy has reduced costs in the company’s radar programmes and permitted it to quickly integrate best-of-breed technology solutions from this defence industry segment.
Lockheed Martin’s plans to stay ahead of its customers’ requirements and its competitors for antennas through two broad technology thrusts.
In one effort, Lockheed Martin will be offering antennas that go beyond what is fielded today by merging the whole electromagnetic spectrum, from electronic warfare though communications, into one system. Dr DeSimone explained this next generation radar, “after this generation, is actually going to merge, from the hardware and software perspectives, all of the electromagnetic spectrum into one hardware- and software-defined technology, where you can say, ‘I want this or that selectable frequency’, and that will be covered in the antenna end as well, on the back end. That is one direction we are going.”
The company is also heavily investing to seamlessly integrate analogue and digital components on a system backend into one technology package, in essence, reducing the radar’s SWAP. The industry expert offered that SWAP is, “really a big thing today. Yes, there are a lot of big radars out there, but there is a lot of need for very small radars that use a lot less power. We feel another place we need to go is to get reduced packaging and reduced power.”