Raytheon’s Next Patriot Radar Will Eliminate a Blind Spot

By Marcus Weisgerber

October 17, 2019

The U.S. Army has awarded Raytheon a $384 million deal to build a half-dozen high-tech radars that can detect drone swarms, maneuvering cruise missiles, and fast-flying hypersonic weapons expected in the wars of the future, the defense contractor said Thursday.

Unlike the current Patriot radar, which is also built by the Massachusetts firm, this one — which the Army calls the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor — can see objects approaching it from all directions, Bob Kelly, Raytheon’s director of domestic integrated air and missile defense programs for business development and strategy, said in an interview Thursday morning. 

The new radar, built specifically to guide Patriot air defense batteries, is designed to track more objects moving faster at longer ranges, company officials said.

While the contract awarded Thursday is only for six radars, there’s potential for lots more. The U.S. Army alone has more than 80 of the current Patriot radars. About 160 additional radars are used by allied nations that have Patriot interceptors. 

Related: A Technological Path Out of the Missile-Defense Security Dilemma

Related: Trump Approves ‘Defensive’ Deployment to Middle East

Related: Pentagon Sees ‘No Major Concerns’ With Raytheon-United Technologies Merger

Kelly said that instead of upgrading the existing Patriot Raytheon with more modern components, the company designed a new radar from scratch.

The more we looked at how difficult some of these threats of the future are to deal with from a sensing perspective, we realized an upgrade to the Patriot radar just wasn’t going to do it,” he said.

A full-sized model of the radar, which is about the size of a semi-trailer, was on display at the Association of the U.S. Army annual convention this week.

Earlier this year, the Army tried out radar prototypes built by Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman.

Bloomberg first reported that Raytheon won the deal on Wednesday evening.

By Marcus Weisgerber // Marcus Weisgerber is the global business editor for Defense One, where he writes about the intersection of business and national security. He has been covering defense and national security issues for more than a decade, previously as Pentagon correspondent for Defense News and chief editor of Inside the Air Force. He has reported from Afghanistan, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, and often travels with the defense secretary and other senior military officials.

October 17, 2019