A New Breed of Radar

A New Breed of Radar
October 21, 2015

They say if you want to stay off someone’s radar, blend into your surroundings.

That’ll be harder for ballistic missiles to do once the Missile Defense Agency’s newest radar is up and running.

On October 21, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced it awarded Lockheed Martin MST a $784 Million contract to provide a new S-band Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR). This radar will use precise tracking data to identify ballistic missile threats early in flight and discriminate lethal payloads from decoys and other objects during mid-course flight.

“The U.S. has a limited number of ground-based interceptors to detect threats, yet the number of potential missile threats - and decoys used to hide those threats - is growing,” said Carl Bannar, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Integrated Warfare and Surveillance Systems business “Our offering meets the MDA’s vision for LRDR by pairing an innovative radar discrimination capability with proven ballistic missile defense algorithms.”

The LRDR is based on MST’s more than 40 years of work on solid state radar and ballistic missile defense; its experience in land-based radar design and construction; proven maintenance and sustainment approaches; and, its experience in S-band radar discrimination.

“These experiences give us the unique ability to accurately track objects in real-time, with a framework that can be easily and quickly updated for evolving threats,” says Tony DeSimone, Ph.D., LRDR technical director. “We’ve already proven our abilities in the key requirement areas, making our solution extremely low-risk.”

LRDR builds on the weapons and technologies that Lockheed Martin provides for all three segments of the layered Ballistic Missile Defense System being developed and deployed by the Missile Defense Agency, including the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. Lockheed Martin develops and operates the Command and Control network for all the sensors and weapons in the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System, as well as the new interceptor guidance system for the ground-based interceptors that will engage any incoming threat to the U.S.

The radar, which is now Lockheed Martin’s largest solid state radar program, will utilize gallium nitride (GaN) technology, based upon an Open GaN Foundry model, which leverages relationships with strategic GaN suppliers. The efficiency of GaN technology provides a larger detection area and improved early detection, while reducing the radar’s required size.

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