Raytheon: New GaN-powered missile pairs well with LTAMDS radar

By Jason Sherman / March 26, 2019

ANDOVER, MA -- Raytheon has developed a new high-tech, Gallium Nitride transmitter for legacy Patriot interceptors -- the GEM-T variant which makes up the bulk of the Army's inventory -- that promises to significantly improve reliability and service life of the guided missile, a capability the company hopes will sweeten interest in its proposed Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor.

The company developed the new Guidance Enhanced Missile (GEM-T)-specific GaN transmitter at its foundry here for an undisclosed foreign customer and plans to make the component a standard feature going forward in new missiles and in all GEM-T service-life extensions, Raytheon representatives said.

"We've already done successful test fires on it in the past month," Bob Kelley, Raytheon's director of integrated air and missile defense domestic programs for business development and strategy, told Inside Defense in a March 21 interview. "So it is a qualified missile that we will start selling here in the near term to some of our foreign partners." Romania signed a letter of intent for a batch of the GaN-powered GEM-Ts on March 16, according to company officials.

The GaN transmitter improves the ability of ground-based radar to guide GEM-T missiles close enough to a threatening aircraft, cruise missile or tactical ballistic missile that a seeker can then activate and close in on the target. The chief benefit of the new GaN transmitter is that it improves the reliability of the GEM-T inventory and extends the life of the missiles, according to Raytheon.

The same underlying GaN technology -- developed as part of a long-running, $300 million Raytheon campaign to develop and improve the military-grade semiconductor substances that boost power in all of its new sensor products -- is a key element of the company’s yet-to-be-unveiled LTAMDS radar. The company will deliver the radar to the Army for a planned "Sense-Off" competition at White Sands Missile Range beginning in May.

"Our LTAMDS solution can support GEM-T," said Kelley. "That is one of the benefits that we bring to the table."

If the Army elects to re-certify its GEM-T inventory -- which makes up a substantial portion of the service's Patriot interceptor fleet -- the government "can get them extended up to a 45-year life plan," said Kelley. "You get a 45-year radar that is going to support those that are in the current inventory of the United States Army."

"The service will have a 45- to 50-year radar in LTAMDS and you can match that with a 45-year missile," added company spokesman Mike Nachsen.

The LTAMDS "Sense-Off" is an initiative slated to begin in May at White Sands Missile Range, NM, that aims to accelerate fielding of the Patriot radar modernization program and deliver a capability that could be fielded as soon as 2022.

Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are expected in the next five weeks to deliver LTAMDS candidate technologies to the New Mexico test range for a competition that could net the winner a once-in-a-generation chance to replace the Army's air and missile defense radar inventory.

While Raytheon hopes the GaN-powered GEM-T will attract Army interest, a key objective of the LTAMDS program is to field a new radar optimized to take advantage of the range and power of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) interceptor, a Lockheed Martin-made guided missile.