by C. Zachary Hofer, Defense Electronic Systems Analyst, Forecast International.
In an announcement released on February 21, Raytheon announced that it would be competing in “the Olympics of radar.” This turn of phrase was the company’s way of saying that it would officially be competing in a “sense off,” or operational capability trial, with the other competitors seeking to win the U.S. Army’s lucrative Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS) award, a program that seeks to replace the long-serving, mission-critical Patriot missile defense radar with a next-generation option.
Raytheon also revealed in the announcement that its LTAMDS candidate radar is a new design, developed from scratch in order to meet the latest missile defense requirements. As with most other high-profile, larger scale radars in recent competitions, Raytheon’s LTAMDS proposal features gallium nitride (GaN) components in its architecture. The GaN design allows for higher power throughput, with greater efficiency than some of the older circuit designs, such as those that used gallium arsenide (GaAs) components.
The LTAMDS trial is scheduled to take place in the May/June span, with entries expected from competitors including Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. Bids from the North American branches of the Australian CEA Technologies and Israeli Elta Systems have a somewhat more difficult path to selection.
As of the announcement, Raytheon is the only competitor believed to have announced its selection for the operational trials.