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The US Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) programme has recently achieved a number of major milestones, Lockheed Martin announced on 6 August.

The first radar panel has been delivered to the Clear, AK site and final beam placement on the radar shelter has also been completed. The programme is successfully meeting its milestones and working towards delivery to the MDA site in Alaska in 2020. When installed, the radar will serve as a key sensor in the MDA’s layered defence strategy against ballistic missile attack.

Completion of Technology Readiness Level 7 testing [in December] provided Lockheed Martin and the MDA customer confidence that the program was ready to ramp up production of the radar [...] Lockheed Martin utilized production representative hardware, as well as tactical back end processing and software in our Solid State Radar Integration Site (SSRIS) to successfully demonstrate system performance in an operational environment in 2018,“ commented Director of Lockheed Martin’s MDA Radars, Chandra Marshall. As the LRDR programme moves towards full-rate manufacturing, the company has invested in this state-of-the-art radar facility to reduce execution risks.

LRDR combines proven solid state radar (SSR) technologies with proven ballistic missile defence algorithms, all based on an open architecture platform capable of meeting future growth. “Solid state radar is the cornerstone of our current and future radar development,“ observed the company’s Vice President and General Manager of Radar and Sensors Systems, Dr Rob Smith. LRDR will provide around-the-clock threat acquisition, tracking and discrimination data to enable defense systems to lock on and engage ballistic missile threats.

The first radar panel, approximately 27ft high, is one of 20 that will be transported to Alaska to make up the radar’s two antenna faces, each some four stories high and wide. Installation and system integration will begin this year, followed by a transition to the testing phase. Construction of the framework to house the system has now been completed, with placement of the final beam occurring in June.

Crews from Lockheed Martin, Haskell Davis Joint Venture and local Alaskan contractors have worked through challenging conditions, including sub-zero temperatures, in constructing the radar facility,“ stated Marshall. “We've made the necessary safety accommodations so that our team remains on schedule to ensure LRDR's critical capabilities will be delivered to MDA.“

The LRDR programme is built upon S-Band radar technology and is the latest in a long line of S-Band radars developed by Lockheed Martin, including the AEGIS combat system, SPACE FENCE and AEGIS ASHORE. In 2018, the MDA awarded the company a contract to design, manufacture and construct the Homeland Defense Radar for Hawaii.

The first LRDR panel began its 5,000 mile journey from Moorestown, NJ to Clear, AK, by truck. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

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