The U.S. Army’s new missile defense radar, developed by Raytheon, has successfully defeated a cruise missile in a recent test, the company announced. The radar, known as the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS), is designed to replace the Army’s existing Patriot air and missile defense radar system. It has the capability to counter ballistic missiles and other complex threats from all directions.
During the test, LTAMDS detected and tracked a cruise missile surrogate flying in a path representative of a potential threat. The radar then transmitted this data to the Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS), developed by Northrop Grumman, which serves as the central command and control hub for the Army’s air and missile defense architecture. IBCS directed a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile to intercept the target, with LTAMDS guiding the missile to its successful interception.
Raytheon stated that this successful test will pave the way for LTAMDS to achieve operational capability by the end of the year. The Army awarded a contract to Raytheon four years ago to develop the new radar, with a requirement to deliver six systems.
Tom Laliberty, the president of land and air defense systems at Raytheon, expressed his satisfaction with the progress of LTAMDS, saying, “Seeing LTAMDS come to life is not only gratifying to the scores of experts who designed and developed it, but it reaffirms the commitment we made to deliver this exceptional radar to air defenders around the globe.”
All six LTAMDS radars under contract have already been built and are currently undergoing simultaneous testing at both U.S. government and company test sites, according to Raytheon. Testing will continue throughout 2024, including environmental and mobility qualification, among other test events. The goal is to achieve full operational capability by the end of the calendar year.
The development testing of LTAMDS has been divided into two phases. The radar consists of three arrays, with one main array and two additional arrays at the back, providing 360-degree threat detection capability. In the first year of testing, the focus is on the main array, while the second year will incorporate full-sector capability testing by integrating the back two arrays.
Brig. Gen. Frank Lozano, the Army’s program executive officer for missiles and space, explained that the decision to split the testing phases was made after system engineering reviews determined that attempting to test all 360 degrees of tracking at once was too challenging. The phased approach also addresses a congressional mandate requiring the Army to field an LTAMDS battalion of four sensors by December 2023. However, the program has faced delays in the supply chain due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Army plans to conduct an operational assessment in the first quarter of fiscal 2025, which will lead to an Engineering and Manufacturing Development decision later that year. Additionally, the Army is required to field three additional LTAMDS radars for the defense of Guam. Raytheon has also secured a contract to produce LTAMDS radars for Poland, making it the first foreign customer for this advanced radar system.