Lockheed’s ballistic missile defense system clears latest hurdle

April 24, 2017

Washington Business Journal:

Lockheed Martin Corp.’s (NYSE: LMT) latest ground-based ballistic missile defense system cleared an important milestone last month, paving the way for the Bethesda defense giant to go from building the prototype to the full system.

The company announced Thursday the Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) completed a design review with the Missile Defense Agency, setting it up for a design review in September. Finishing that stage would allow the LRDR to move into full-rate production, which is expected in the spring of 2018, Chandra Marshall, Lockheed’s director of LRDR, told reporters on a media call Thursday.

The LRDR prototype is currently located in Moorestown, New Jersey, and will be moved into Lockheed’s nearby, self-funded Solid State Radar Integration Site this summer, which is where the next round of tests will take place. By 2019, the company plans to move the LRDR system to its final destination at Clear Air Force Station in Alaska.

The LRDR is an S-band, ground-based radar that uses high-frequency microwaves to identify ballistic missile threats. It uses Gallium Nitride (GaN) circuits that can transmit a powerful radar signal and detect incoming threats at a long distance.

Lockheed has invested in GaN technology since 2000, and is employing it in ground-based AN/TPS-77 radars purchased by Romania and the Space Fence that will be operational at Kwajalein Atoll in 2018— used to detect space debris in the Earth’s atmosphere.

On Oct. 15, 2015, Lockheed won a nine-year, $784.3 million contract to “develop, deploy, test and operate” an LRDR. At the time of the award, the company said it would stick to an “aggressive timeline” and that LRDR would be ready for operational testing in Alaska by 2020.

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