Raytheon Company has bagged a $19.5m contract from the US Air Force (USAF) for engineering and manufacturing development of a new expeditionary radar, designed to detect, identify and track drones, missiles and aircraft.

The contract will include procurement of an additional three radar systems and continued development of the three-dimensional expeditionary long-range radar (3DELRR) programme. It also includes options for another three systems that brings the total value of the contract to around $71.8m.

The 3DELRR is one of the first programmes under the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) Better Buying Power initiative to be designed for exportability.

The system is a gallium nitride (GaN)-based radar that operates in the C-band of the radio frequency spectrum. The use of GaN helped Raytheon to inexpensively increase the range of the radar, its sensitivity and search capabilities.

The military also gets increased flexibility with the C-band as that portion of the spectrum is relatively uncongested.

"This new technology will lead to the replacement of older radars like the Vietnam-era AN/TPS-75."

Speaking about the investment, Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems vice-president Global Integrated Sensors David Gulla said: "By choosing Raytheon’s 3DELRR solution, the air force is purchasing an affordable, exportable radar. Raytheon’s 3DELRR design is interoperable with coalition systems and capable of meeting the requirements of many international customers."

Raytheon’s 3DELRR program director Andrew Hajek said: "As the U.S. and other countries look to replace aging battlefield radars with low-cost yet cutting edge and highly capable systems, Raytheon’s 3DELRR can meet that growing demand."

This new technology will lead to the replacement of older radars like the Vietnam-era AN/TPS-75, which are now incapable of keeping pace with current and emerging threats.

The USAF expects to complete a critical design review of the programme by the end of the first quarter of 2015, followed by low-rate initial production in early 2018 and achieve initial operational capability by 2020.

Defence Technology