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On 17 October, Raytheon announced it has been selected to provide the US Army with its next-generation, 360° capable radar - the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS). This is a new radar that will ultimately replace the service’s current PATRIOT radars and, furthermore, will operate on the Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) network.

Raytheon competed for this initial programme contract against two formidable industry teams, led by Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, respectively.

The rapidly evolving priority US Army programme has long been on MON’s editorial watchlist, due to the potential scope of this sensor’s place in what is a global PATRIOT programme – 17 nations have procured 240 system radars from Raytheon.

In a media briefing Bob Kelley, the company’s Director, IAMD Business Development and Strategy, noted that LTAMDS is a 360° capable active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar powered by Raytheon-manufactured Gallium Nitride (GaN), a substance that strengthens the radar signal and enhances its sensitivity. He pointed out that "in one instance, while the two rear arrays on an LTAMDS unit are “about 50% of the size of the PATRIOT radar […] each one of those, individually, is more than twice as capable as the PATRIOT radar on the battlefield today.” Another featured technology of the new sensor encompasses the use of digital (as opposed to analogue) receivers/exciters. “That really gets us high performance against the most serious threat, in a benign (without jamming of our signals) and contested (jamming our signals) environment,” he noted.

This radar is looking out to the day after tomorrow,” the Raytheon programme executive remarked, adding that threats this sensor will have to help defeat in the ballistic missile domain and adjacent spaces include hypersonic-drive vehicles, bolstered counter-measures and more numerous re-entry vehicles.

LTAMDS supports US Army PATRIOT interceptors – the PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE), GEM-T INTERCEPTOR and, according to Mr Kelly, “anything else the US Army chooses to integrate.”

US-based companies on the Raytheon-led team that will help deliver six production-representative units include: Cummings Aerospace, Mercury Systems, Ierus, Crane Aerospace & Electronics, Kord Technologies and nLogic.

LTAMDS programme initial operational capability (IOC) is forecast for 2022. After IOC, Mr Kelley offered that Raytheon “expects the government to conduct a competition for low-rate initial production for an additional 16 LTAMDS radars. And then beyond that, the Army has said this will be a one-for-one replacement for the PATRIOT radar. The US Army has more than 80 of these in the inventory.”

Marty Kauchak

The LTAMDS, featuring AESA and GaN technologies, will bring enhanced capabilities to the current and future generations of PATRIOT interceptors. (Photo: Raytheon)

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