US defence giant Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems is highlighting some of its capabilities against ballistic missiles here at IDEX, a clever strategy in a region that is becoming increasingly concerned over the threat posed by cruise missiles and ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets across the Gulf region – and beyond. These missiles are likely only to grow in capability, increasing their reach and payload.
A ballistic missile will typically carry both real warheads and a plethora of decoys designed to confuse a defender’s radar. Given that it may not be possible to engage every incoming object, distinguishing warheads from decoys and countermeasures is vitally important. To achieve this, radar must be capable of accurate discrimination, picking out the warheads from a cluster of multiple objects before passing accurate targeting information to the interceptor.
Raytheon (Stand 03-B07) has invested hundreds of millions of dollars with the sole aim of creating radars that provide real cutting-edge discrimination capability.
Two of the systems resulting from this investment are the X-band AN/ TPY-2, a land-based radar with a 9m2 phased array antenna incorporating 72 transmit/receive modules (TRMs), and the company’s XBR X-band air defence radar – a sea-based radar based on a converted offshore oil rig that is claimed to be the largest and most sophisticated phased-array, electro-mechanically steered X-band radar in the world. It was specifically designed to carry out discrimination of enemy warheads from decoys, followed by the precision tracking of the identified warheads.
Both of these systems have become synonymous with discrimination, the AN/TPY-2 forming the backbone of the US Ballistic Missile Defense System and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon system.
For the future, Raytheon is incorporating discrimination capability into radars operating in other wavelengths, most notably the new S-band AN/SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) for the US Navy’s DDG-51 Flight III Arleigh Burke-class of guided missile destroyers. This radar uses the latest gallium nitride TRM technology and employs modular hardware and software. The technology is scalable enough to form the basis of a new family of air defence radars.