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2 February 2016

Raytheon's GaN-based AESA Patriot air & missile defense radar completes key milestones

Raytheon Company of Waltham, MA, USA recently completed a series of company-funded milestones to upgrade the combat-proven Patriot Air and Missile Defense System. The projected upgrade delivers 360° capability, aiming to keep Patriot ahead of increasingly more sophisticated threats, such as aircraft, drones and cruise and ballistic missiles.

The Patriot radar main array was enhanced with gallium nitride (GaN)-based active electronically scanned array (AESA) technology. The same Raytheon engineers who completed those milestones are currently constructing a GaN-based AESA, full-size, main panel radar array (on track to have a full-scale main array prototype operational in early 2016 – just 24 months after the firm began building it).

"Raytheon has invested more than $150m in GaN technology and learned invaluable lessons while building our GaN-based AESA full-scale prototype," says Ralph Acaba, VP of Integrated Air and Missile Defense at Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems business (based in Andover, MA). "This ensures Raytheon is able to rapidly develop, build, test and deliver a combat-ready GaN-based AESA radar that gives Patriot 360° capability," he adds.

The Raytheon-built GaN-based AESA radar uses three antenna arrays mounted on a mobile radar shelter to provide 360° of radar coverage. The main AESA array is a bolt-on replacement for the existing gallium arsenide (GaAs)-based Patriot antenna. The GaN-based AESA array measures roughly 9' wide x 13' tall, and is oriented toward the primary threat. Patriot's new rear panel arrays are a quarter the size of the main array, and let the system look behind and to the sides of the main array to offer Patriot the ability to engage threats in all directions.

In 2015, Raytheon built a GaN-based AESA rear-panel array and integrated it with a radar for potential use in Patriot, using existing and recently modernized back-end processing hardware and software. The radar then tracked targets of opportunity, leveraging a seamless 360° view.

"Raytheon's GaN-based AESA radar will outmatch future threats for the same reason today's Patriot is able to outmatch current threats – because it is designed to be upgraded and we have a growth path for the system," says Tim Glaeser, VP of Integrated Air and Missile Defense Business Development at Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems business.

The recently accomplished AESA GaN milestones include: 

  • completing construction of the AESA main array structure;
  • constructing the AESA arrays' radar shelter;
  • integrating receivers and a radar digital processor into the radar shelter;
  • delivering the shelter to Raytheon's test facility in Pelham, NH; and
  • testing the radar's cooling sub-system.

Raytheon's GaN-based AESA radar will work with future open architecture (such as the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System) and retains backwards compatibility with the existing Patriot Engagement Control Station. It will also be fully interoperable with NATO.

Raytheon's Global Patriot Solutions portfolio of air & missile defense technologies provides protection against a range of threats including aircraft, tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Upgraded and enhanced to leverage the latest technology, 13 nations depend on Patriot as the foundation for their defense. 

See related items:

US Government approves export of GaN-based AESA sensor for Patriot radar

Tags: Raytheon GaN MMIC Radar

Visit: www.raytheon.com/capabilities/products/patriot

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