Hitting the Bull’s Eye

Radar Technology Continues to Evolve

Dilip Kumar Mekala

In March 2016, Raytheon unveiled its next-generation Patriot radar — a stronger, re-engineered version of the existing system that has been in service with the US forces for decades. This new radar uses Gallium Nitrade (GaN) material for its powerful new circuits, and Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) for detection, and boasts 360 degree view on the battlefield. Raytheon has spent more than 15 years and around USD200 million to perfect the gallium nitride technology. It has previously built gallium nitride circuits for a number of products including jammers and other radars.

Raytheon’s latest version of Patriot missile system, which includes the newly-developed GaN radar, can be used to even deter ballistic missiles
Raytheon’s latest version of Patriot missile system, which includes the newly-developed GaN radar, can be used to even deter ballistic missiles

“The company wants to prove how far it has come in building a radar that is more powerful, more efficient and cheaper to run and maintain. In short, a radar to defeat the ever-changing threats the US and its allies will face for decades to come,” said Doug Burgess, Raytheon’s programme manager for Patriot AESA radars. “Compared to what is used in radars today, AESA GaN radars weigh less, cost less, and use less energy than radars out there today,” said Norm Cantin, Raytheon’s director of Patriot AESA programmes. He added, “AESA GaN is what is going to give Patriot the ability to see and engage aircraft and cruise and ballistic missiles in 360 degrees.”

The latest version of Patriot missile system, according to the company, can be used to even deter ballistic missiles when different kinds of interceptors are fired in rapid succession. “Twenty years ago, who would have thought that non-state actors would fire ballistic missiles at cities?” wonders Ralph Acaba, vice president of Raytheon’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence. “Patriot has proven it can defeat emerging threats, and Raytheon has a technology roadmap and a robust research and development pipeline to ensure it can defeat threats 30 or 40 years down the road.” The United States is planning to introduce GaN technology into other systems for their navy and air force.

Lockheed Martin announced its next generation radar technology called the Digital Array Row Transceiver (DART) in November 2015. According to the company, the radar products that use DART technology result in greater performance and lower life-cycle costs due to an increase in energy efficiency. DART claims to improve upon Lockheed Martin’s ground-based radar products that have a proven record of being reliable.

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