The US Air Force (USAF) is reportedly planning to award two major contracts that will expand its radar capabilities in summer 2014.

The contracts include the Space Fence programme, a multistatic radar system designed to enhance the USAF’s ability to identify and track space debris, and the three dimensional expeditionary long range radar (3DELRR) programme, which is scheduled to replace the aging AN/TPS-75 system, reported Defense News.

Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are bidding for both contracts, and are joined by Northrop Grumman for the 3DELRR contract.

Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training business Advanced Systems vice-president Steve Bruce was quoted by the news agency as saying that the contract for Site 1 is expected to be awarded by the end of May, and also features a price option for the second site.

Bruce said, "We also have priced options for interim contract support.

"The plan for the air force is Site 1 goes in, it becomes operational, the contractor supports it for two years, and then the timing of it right now is when the first site becomes operational, the second site becomes awarded."

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"The Space Fence is critical to national security and will provide the air force with enhanced space situational awareness."

In an emailed response to a request for comment, Raytheon spokesman Michael Nachshen said the Space Fence is critical to national security and will provide the air force with enhanced space situational awareness.

"Raytheon is confident of our solution and looks forward to the air force’s decision," Nachshen said.

The contract was originally planned to be awarded in 2013, but the scheduled was delayed as the results of the Strategic Choices and Management Review were finalised, according to the news agency.

Scheduled to be awarded by the third quarter of 2014, the 3DELRR contract will be followed by a critical design review (CDR) by the end of the first quarter of 2015, low-rate initial production (LRIP) in early 2018, and initial deployment by 2020.

Both Raytheon and Lockheed refused to comment on the 3DELRR contract, which will include production and delivery of 35 systems for the air force.

Image: A conceptual design of USAF’s three-dimensional expeditionary long-range radar that will replace existing AN/TPS-75 radar system. Photo: courtesy of graphic.

Defence Technology