Raytheon Wins Deal to Outfit Air Force With New Radar System

Senior Airman Joseph Fletcher and Airman 1st Class Christopher Kelly inspect a TPS-75 radar March 13, 2012, in Southwest Asia. The TPS-75 is being replaced by a new Three-Dimensional Long-Range Radar (3DELRR) system that will serve as the Air Force's primary long-range, ground-based sensor for detecting, identifying, tracking and reporting aerial targets. A contract was awarded to Raytheon for the engineering, development and manufacturing of the system, Oct. 6, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

The Air Force will have its new expeditionary radars made by Raytheon Co., after legal wrangling over the contract.

The service announced Thursday it has awarded the Massachusetts-based company a $52.6 million contract for the Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar system. The fixed-price-incentive-firm contract covers engineering and manufacturing development.  

Known as 3DELRR, Raytheon’s proposed system for the mobile system for expeditionary missions is a C-band Gallium Nitride (GaN)-based radar, according to the company. Raytheon uses GaN for various systems it designs for higher power functions.

“GaN-based components are more than five times more powerful than semiconductors presently used in radars and other types of sensors resulting in lighter, more capable electronics,” the company said on its website.

The 3DELRR system will replace the aging AN/TPS-75, or 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 service said.

“Our warfighter customer has been waiting to replace its aging AN/TPS-75 for a long time,” said Col. Michael Harm, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center senior materiel leader and program manager for 3DELRR.

“Awarding the 3DELRR contract is a huge step toward that end,” he said in a release. The center is located at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts.

Raytheon was selected to replace the radars in October 2014. However, both Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin Corp. quickly filed protests over the selection with the Government Accountability Office. The Air Force in 2015 said it would re-evaluate its choice, which prompted Raytheon to file suit in U.S. Federal Claims Court.

The court rejected Raytheon’s motion. Then, the Air Force amended its solicitation in 2016 to include full-rate production options.

“We decided to include these options to leverage the robust, competitive environment and capture competitive pricing for FRP, which was determined to be in the best interest of the government,” Harm, then the Theater Battle Control Division chief and senior materiel leader, said at the time. ‘We’ll be able to provide the best product to the warfighter, at the best value.”

Full replacement of the Tipsy 75 systems is expected by 2029, the release said.

The 3DELRR will enhance “battlespace awareness through detection and reporting of highly maneuverable, small radar cross-section targets,” the service said.

“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,” it said.

Through its design development, 3DELRR is expected to incorporate exportability features and open systems architecture to reduce per-unit production and total life costs.

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Oriana Pawlyk
Oriana Pawlyk is a reporter for Military.com. She can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.