When Minutes Matter:

How the TPY-4 Radar Delivers Game Changing Flexibility to Face Threats Today – and Tomorrow

Today’s threats evolve at a rapid pace so today’s radar solutions must evolve even faster. Lockheed Martin is continuously investing in new technologies that provide long term flexibility to add new capabilities and optimize performance for specific missions, threats, and environments. The company leverages its deep operational understanding from decades of worldwide radar deployments, using the latest technologies to provide critical capabilities, while ensuring the U.S. and its allies are ready for the future by providing software-defined radar flexibility to defend against the next threat. 

The Lockheed Martin TPY-4 is the most modern air defense radar available and is a direct result of the company’s dedication to develop a multi-mission system that can operate in congested electromagnetic environments while tracking current and emerging threats.

“No other radar in the world today has the potential of TPY-4 because its architecture provides immense flexibility,” says Rick Herodes, Lockheed Martin’s director of Ground Based Air Surveillance who has spent 35 years designing ground based radars. “TPY-4 was designed with real world operational awareness, producibility, and flexibility to adjust to future threats in mind. Without that, radar systems can only hope to provide marginal performance at best, limiting warfighter awareness and leaving them vulnerable to threats.” 

“TPY-4 was designed with real world operational awareness, producibility, and flexibility to adjust to future threats in mind. Without that, radar systems can only hope to provide marginal performance at best, limiting warfighter awareness and leaving them vulnerable to threats.” 

Rick Herodes

TPY-4’s Proven Capabilities Lead to United States Air Force Contract

The United States Air Force’s decision to award Lockheed Martin an integration contract for the Three Dimensional Expeditionary Long Range Radar program, which includes options for 35 radars, was a direct result of a technical review and demonstration of the TPY-4 radar in September 2020. 

“Live testing scenarios during the demonstration proved the abilities of TPY-4. Not only was the radar designed to meet or exceed the Air Force’s mission needs, but also those of our other domestic and international customers,” said Herodes.

The World’s First Truly Software-Defined Radar

What sets TPY-4 apart from other radars?

“TPY-4 consists of over 1,000 elements that are each independently and digitally controllable on transmit and receive; every radiating element in the system is a miniature radar system. This allows software-only changes to adjust to emerging threats without hardware changes,” says Herodes.

The radar integrates the latest mature commercial technologies, including Gallium Nitride amplifiers, with high density antenna electronics and Graphics Processing Unit-based data processing to create a revolutionary radar architecture. TPY-4 includes individually software controlled digital transmitters and digital receivers for every single radiating element, providing extraordinary flexibility not only to optimize performance for specific missions, threats, and environments of today, but also for ease of adaptation to more advanced threats and new missions in the future. These adaptations can be implemented via simple software enhancements without invasive architectural redesign.

“As the world’s first truly software-defined radar, TPY-4 provides the most adaptable architecture imaginable and allows mission changes as easily as downloading an app on your mobile phone.”

Rick Herodes

The system outperforms the competition in three key areas:

Target Detection: TPY-4 detects smaller, harder-to-detect next generation threats in heavy clutter – unwanted signals or echoes generated from physical objects in the environment like the ground, water, animals, etc. Clutter can make the detection of targets difficult. The radar can see targets in jamming and provides long range early warning for tactical ballistic missiles.

Mission Diversity: As with all Lockheed Martin radars, TPY-4 is a multi-role radar where the operator can quickly pivot from one mission to another by the push of a button, enabling them to address threats in a contested environment.

For example, TPY-4 can track up to 90 degrees in elevation (no cone of silence) to support a tactical ballistic missile mission. The radar will operate in extreme climates and environments. The scalable system is designed to support fixed site and mobile deployment.

Transportability: The system is available in both fixed- and highly-mobile variants and is transportable via C-130, C-17, truck, rail, or helicopter. With TPY-4, the operator does not have to compromise on performance or transportability.

On-Demand Production Capacity

The TPY-4 production plan lines up well with the timelines of the U.S. Air Force and international military need. Lockheed Martin’s innovative One Factory production approach provides the capacity needed to meet demand. The company utilizes facilities tied together by digital transformation infrastructure, such as smart tools, connected machines and networked supply chains to take advantage of site-specific expertise and manufacturing technologies.

A Partner to Rely On – Radars Never Out of Service

Lockheed Martin is proud of the partnerships built during production, and the long-lasting commitment to servicing the radars it builds. No Lockheed Martin FPS-117 or TPS-77 radar has ever been taken out of service due to lack of support. The systems continue to operate well beyond their original 20-year service lives, with many expected to operate for more than 40 years. The legacy continues with the Lockheed Martin TPY-4 radar.

When safety and security depend on it, Lockheed Martin’s trusted radars enable early awareness and clear information for a decisive response to today’s threats … and tomorrow’s.