Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $65.1m contract modification for the manufacture of three additional Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR) systems for the US Air Force (USAF), bringing the total cumulative value of the contract to $260.6m.

Detailing the contract award on 18 January 2024, the US Department of Defense (DoD) stated that work on the build of the three 3DELRR was expected to be completed by 31 January 2026. The contract award also provides for production management and other direct costs, stated the DoD.

In February 2022 Lockheed Martin’s was selected by the USAF in support of its 3DELRR rapid prototyping programme. Following radar demonstrations in the summer of 2020, the USAF selected Lockheed Martin’s AN/TPY-4(V)1 to replace the TPS-75 radar. The USAF plans to acquire up to 35 3DELRR systems through to 2028.

Later that year, Lockheed Martin completed production of its first AN/TPY-4 radar, just one month after it was selected by the USAF under the 3DELRR rapid prototyping programme.

Questions raised over 3DELRR progression

In August 2023 the US DoD’s Office of Inspector General published a report into whether the USAF used the Middle Tier of Acquisition (MTA) pathway for the prototyping and fielding of the 3DELRR programme as intended. The MTA is typically used to develop prototypes to demonstrate new capabilities or field production quantities of systems with proven technologies that require minimal development.

In the report, the Office of Inspector General found that the USAF “did not effectively use the MTA pathway” as the service transitioned the programme from MTA rapid prototyping to fielding and questioned its ability to complete fielding of all 35 systems of all 35 3DELRR systems within five years of the MTA rapid fielding path start date.

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In the report, it was stated that the USAF transitioned “almost three years early” to the rapid fielding path to use procurement funding, a result of which saw the 3DELRR programme office planning to transition the programme “into a major capability acquisition early because it may not complete the rapid fielding path within the five-year time limit”.

The Office of the Inspector General recommended, among other outcomes, that the USAF “require the Air Force Program Executive Officer Digital to request a waiver to extend the rapid fielding path for the 3DELRR programme to complete fielding in the MTA pathway and require the 3DELRR programme office to develop a plan to complete fielding the 3DELRR programme in the rapid fielding path if a waiver is issued”.