Lockheed Martin and Raytheon square off for major, mobile tactical radar program

Industry team Lockheed Martin and ARINC submitted its proposal July 30 for a new, transportable air traffic control radar system that will enable Air Force and Air National Guard units to quickly establish tactical military or disaster-relief airfield operations around the world. They will compete against Raytheon, which submitted its proposal earlier this month for the Air Force’s Deployable Radar Approach Control (D-RAPCON) program.

Under the D-RAPCON program, the Air Force will procure 19 modular ATC surveillance radar systems, which can deploy within 48 hours worldwide by C-130 aircraft and take less than six hours to set up. Older, portable ATC systems presently in use are becoming maintenance challenges. The total program value is expected to be more than $400 million.

The solution from the Lockheed Martin-ARINC team integrates the TPS-79 tactical surveillance radar and Microprocessor-En Route Automated Radar Tracking System (Micro-EARTS), and ARINC’s transportable ATC operations shelter.  According to a Lockheed Martin press release, Micro-EARTS is the only ATC display system certified by the Federal Aviation Administration for providing both terminal and en route ATC automation capabilities at FAA and Department of Defense operational sites, as well as for currently deployed Air Force expeditionary ATC systems.

Raytheon's D-RAPCON solution consists of primary and secondary ATC radars integrated with a quick set-up deployable radar antenna, self-contained deployable ATC operations center, ATC voice (VHF/UHF) communications system and secure networked data communications.

 

The Air Force’s D-RAPCON program will replace aging and difficult to maintain ATC systems in service, including the more than 40-year-old AN/TPN-19 landing control center, according to an Air Force Electronic Systems Center press release issued in March. Ten D-RAPCON systems will go to the Air National Guard, seven to active-duty Air Force Space Command units and one each to the Air Force’s ATC school and depot.

The program is moving forward once again after budgetary delays.

"At the end of August of last year, we were ready to go, but after a $48 million congressional mark was made against the program's fiscal year 2012 engineering, manufacturing and development budget we had to regroup," said Capt. Charles O'Connor, D-RAPCON program manager, who was quoted in the press release. "We are looking more to commercial-off-the-shelf or COTS-type solutions, and have reduced the pre-production units from two to one for cost savings. We were able to maintain the key performance parameters."

The system will be composed of two subsystems - air surveillance radar and operations - each of which can be separately deployed, according to the ESC press release. An approximately $50.5 million Engineering and Manufacturing Development contract is expected to be awarded in the first quarter of FY13. Full operational capability is planned for 2020, but the Air Force says the program can be accelerated if necessary.

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