Air Force awards deal for next-gen 3D radar

Air Force TPS-75 radar

Airmen deploy a TPS-75 radar, which the Air Force plans to replace with new 3D systems.

The Air Force is moving toward its next generation of radar systems with the recent award to Raytheon for its Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR).

The $19.5 million contract covers the engineering, manufacturing and development phase for three of the systems, and the contract could reach nearly $72 million if all of its options are exercised, the Air Force said in a release.

The new 3D systems, which will provide long-range, ground-based detection, identification and tracking of aircraft and missiles, will replace the legacy TPS-75 radar, which has formed the backbone of ground-based air defense since 1968.

Raytheon won the contract over Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman after a competition in which each developed prototype systems.

The Air Force expects eventually to buy 35 3DELRR systems. After the initial three systems are developed and tested—expected by October 2018—three others are expected to be produced under an option for an 18-month low-rate initial production, with operational capability planned for 2020. The Air Force then plans to award a follow-on contract for full-rate production of 29 more systems.

Raytheon says its 3DELRR system is a Gallium Nitride-based radar that uses the largely uncongested C-Band of the electromagnetic spectrum, which will enable accurate identification of a diverse range of objects over great distances.

“The new 3DELRR radar will be capable of detecting certain current and emerging threats that the TPS-75 is incapable of seeing," Kevin Ray, the pre-EMD phase chief engineer, said in the Air Force release. "In addition, the radar's improved system reliability will drive down operating and support costs and enhance the operational availability for the warfighter."

According to the Air Force’s solicitation for the system, 3DELRR would improve over current radar operations by being able to detect small, highly maneuverable targets and more accurately differentiate among types of aircraft. “It will also mitigate most of the sustainability and maintainability concerns which plague the current system,” the solicitation states.

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center's Theater Battle Control Division at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., awarded the contract.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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