Upgraded GaN AESA radar for Patriot missile defense system moves forward

WASHINGTON. Raytheon engineers are upgrading the Patriot Air and Missile Defense System's radar to provide 360 degree protection from the potential threat unmanned aircraft, manned aircraft, and cruise and ballistic missiles simultaneously attacking U.S. or allied forces from multiple directions.

The enhancements include upgrading the Patriot radar main array with Gallium Nitride- (GaN) based Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology. Raytheon is performing the upgrades with internal funding.

Raytheon engineers are currently constructing a GaN-based AESA full size main panel radar array and are on track to having a full-scale main array demonstrator operational in early 2016.

"The Raytheon-developed GaN-based AESA radar builds on the more than $150 million invested in GaN technology, and will be a simple upgrade for the more than 220 Patriot fire units fielded by the U.S. and the 12 other Patriot partner nations," says Ralph Acaba, Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems business vice president of Integrated Air and Missile Defense. "This upgrade is approved for export to all current Patriot partners and a number of future Patriot partner nations such as Poland."

It will reduce operation and maintenance cost by as much as 50 percent, he adds.

The GaN-based AESA Patriot uses three antenna arrays mounted on a mobile radar shelter to provide 360-degrees of radar coverage. The main AESA array is a bolt-on replacement antenna for the current Gallium Arsenide based antenna. The GaN-based AESA array measures roughly 9 feet wide by 13 feet tall, and is oriented toward the primary threat. Patriot's new rear panel arrays are a quarter the size of the main array and enable the system look behind and to the sides of the main array, allowing Patriot to engage threats in all directions.

Earlier this year, Raytheon experts built a GaN-based AESA Patriot rear-panel array, integrated it with the current Patriot radar using the existing, recently upgraded, back-end processing hardware and software, and tracked targets of opportunity to create a 360-degree view.

The recently accomplished engineering 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, N.H.
Testing the radar's cooling sub-system.

Raytheon's GaN-based AESA Patriot radar will work with future open architectures as Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System and it also maintains backwards compatibility with the current Patriot Engagement Control Station. It is fully interoperable with NATO.