US Army wants LTAMDS to see further and more accurately, than the current radar can today
Lower tier air and missile defense sensor (LTAMDS) is the US Army’s programme to replace the service’s legacy-era PATRIOT radar. Robert Kelley, Senior Manager for Domestic Business Development for Integrated Air and Missile Defense, Business Development & Strategy, Integrated Defense Systems at Raytheon, emphasised the new radar, “will not replace it in the context of a PATRIOT system,” and explained that rather than a system approach, the LTAMDS radar is being designed specifically to operate in a netted approach, specifically, “on the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) integrated fire control network, with LTAMDS contributing to the overall theatre air picture.”
The US Army wants LTAMDS to see further and more accurately, than the current radar can today, and focus on peer threats – expanding its battle space in terms of range and field-of-view. While Mr Kelley was unable to provide the army customer’s current LTAMDS operating parameters, which are classified, he did note: “The performance is on the order of three times what PATRIOT can do today.”
LTAMDS is on an accelerated acquisition timeline with the first radar set scheduled for fielding in fiscal year 2022. Waypoints on the army’s LTAMDS acquisition roadmap call for a competitive, live fire, “sense-off” technology challenge this May and June at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, and a down select among prototypes, by the end of this year. Mr Kelley pointed out: “Raytheon has been selected to participate in the sense off and is preparing to do so now.”
Raytheon’s competencies being brought to bear in its LTAMDS prototype for the sense off demonstration include its deep, years-long investment in developing semiconductor technology based on gallium nitride (GaN). Circuitry based on GaN can be used to build radars that emit stronger signals and boast greater sensitivity. The technology has already been used to enhance the PATRIOT Guidance Enhanced Missile – Tactical ballistic missile. GaN and other technology and manufacturing competencies will allow for future growth potential – and with good reasons.
Of significance, the US Army’s LTAMDS threshold curiously does not call for a 360-degree radar, a heretofore service priority. “But our basic design is for a 360-degree radar. We have a lot of scalability in our system. If the Army decides it doesn’t want the 360-degree capability, we can certainly offer them a primary sector-search radar, and give them the opportunity in the future to upgrade to that.”
Raytheon declined to discuss its LTAMDS industry partners given the competitive phase of the acquisition programme. Based on the army’s fiscal year 2020-24 outyears budget, LTAMDS is expected to be a ($US) multibillion-dollar programme. While the service declined to confirm the industry competitors for the upcoming sense off, it is in the public domain that Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, CAE Technologies North America and ELTA North America attended last November’s LTAMDS industry day here in Huntsville.