A modern-day Patriot

Continuous evolution improves this missile defense system

It’s tested and trusted.

Since its debut more than a generation ago, Raytheon’s Patriot™ air and missile defense system protects nations around the world.

“Internally the system is modernized, digital, and takes advantage of the latest technology,” Brian MacDonald, director of testing for Patriot at system maker Raytheon.

It’s overhauled and modernized for the next generation, according to MacDonald.

That was then, this is now

Continuous modernization taps the latest technologies to keep the Patriot system relevant in its time.

“The radar has been substantially changed internally and the command-and-control is being brought to the modern, IP-enabled world,” MacDonald said. “Even the 'old' missile – my team recently did a live fire with an upgraded missile that uses gallium nitride, or GaN, (integrated circuit) technology.”

Raytheon has invested in the development of GaN for a number of technologies, including its new active electronically scanned array radar for Patriot. Circuitry based on GaN can be used to build radars that emit stronger signals and boast greater sensitivity.

The tech is also used to enhance the Patriot Guidance Enhanced Missile – Tactical Ballistic Missile, or GEM-T. GEM-T is used against aircraft and tactical ballistic and cruise missiles, and uses GaN-based transmitters that do not need to be recertified over the life of the missile.

Bringing in the latest tech

A contract document known as the Engineering Services Memorandum, or ESM, helps drive the evolution of the system. Patriot ESM supports Air and Missile Defense modernization in a competitive threat environment.

“Every day our adversaries are spending billions to modernize the threat...Patriot evolves with the threat and ESM is one of the vehicles for doing this,” said John Bottino, director of Patriot Engineering Services Programs.

Patriot ESM includes the International Engineering Services Program. The Patriot IESP is a key contributor to the system’s long-term success in the field.

“It enables Patriot partner nations to continually improve system performance and reliability using a shared-cost model,” Bottino said.

The experienced team

Some of the folks who work on Patriot have a personal perspective that adds real value to the job.

Nate Jones, a senior manager working on air and missile defense for Raytheon, for example, was one of the original Scud-Busters in the early 1990s. He used Patriot while serving as a U.S. Army chief warrant officer, and now he’s one of the air defense subject matter experts for Raytheon.

“I would have loved to have the modern technology we have on Patriot now,” Jones said. “The advanced technologies warfighters use to save lives in combat or other operational missions should be as intuitive as the technologies they use for everyday tasks, (from) using a smart phone to playing video games.”