Raytheon selected to deliver 3-D long-range radar system to Air Force

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center officials selected Raytheon for a $52.6 million contract to deliver three-dimensional expeditionary long-range radar (3DELRR) system. The 3DELRR system will replace the AN/TPS-75 (Tipsy 75), as the principal Air Force ground-based sensor for long range surveillance, detection, and tracking of aerial targets in support of theater commanders.

The contract award covers the engineering and manufacturing development of three production representative units, but allows the ability to exercise options for low-rate production, interim contractor support, and full rate production when appropriate.

The 3DELRR will enhance battlespace awareness through detection and reporting of highly maneuverable, small radar cross section targets, officials explain. Moreover, it will provide air controllers with a precise, real-time picture of sufficient quality to conduct control of individual aircraft under many operational conditions.

“3DELRR will offer improvements over older equipment, some of which still contain vacuum-tube technology,” says Lt. Col. Johnny McGonigal, the 729th Air Control Squadron commander at Hill AFB, Utah. “We’re really going from the analog age to digital, and that’s going to make us even more effective.”

According to program managers, the new award balances radar performance with long-term sustainability and maintainability. In addition, 3DELRR incorporates exportability features and open systems architecture early in the design to reduce per-unit production and total life costs.

The program re-entered source selection due to protests and appeals, but the it was originally awarded in October 2014. The solicitation was amended in 2016 to include full-rate production options in order to maximize benefits of a competitive environment and set the table for faster fielding of capability after government testing. Full replacement of the AN/TPS-75 systems is expected by 2029.

“Air dominance doesn’t happen without tactical command and control,” explains McGonigal, whose unit currently operates the Tipsy 75 and will eventually field its replacement, the 3DELRR. “At any minute, of any day there’s an Air Operations Center relying on tactical C2 provided by airborne assets like the E-3 Sentry (AWACS) or E-8C Joint STARS, and/or ground-based radar provided by a control and reporting center, which is able to be more persistent once established.”

“From both an operational and life cycle sustainment perspective, 3DELRR will greatly improve our current capability,” says Lt. Col. Michael Alexander, the AFLCMC-Hanscom’s materiel leader and deputy program manager for 3DELRR. “It will incorporate an upgradeable open systems architecture.”

In addition to improving battle space awareness, 3DELRR is designed to be readily transportable, decreasing the time between a combatant commander’s request for persistent, ground-based command and control, and when it can be delivered.

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