Sometimes Nate Jones misses being in uniform.
"When I remember what it was like when I was in the military, I can’t help but think how much better the technology will be for the soldiers using this new radar,” he said.
Jones, who was one of the original Scud-Busters in the early 1990s, is talking about the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor, also known as LTAMDS, the new radar for the U.S. Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense network. In October 2019, the Army chose Raytheon Technologies to build LTAMDS.
Jones, now an air and missile defense expert for the company, used Patriot while serving as a U.S. Army chief warrant officer. It was good then and better now, he said.
“The technology we had back then was tremendous, but now, knowing the next generation of Army soldiers has LTAMDS, makes me sleep better at night,” Jones said.
The new LTAMDS radar, with U.S. government approval, could become available for international sales.
The first time anyone saw LTAMDS was at the 2019 Association of the United States Army conference, known as AUSA, where the company rolled out a mock-up.
“The Army is getting a new, phenomenal radar that can do the job from Day One,” said Doug Burgess, program director for LTAMDS at Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a business of Raytheon Technologies.
The system expands battlespace coverage to protect soldiers from advanced air and missile threats. This work was done with the help of LTAMDS partners in Huntsville, Alabama.
Behind the radar is Raytheon Technologies' years-long investment in developing semiconductor technology based on gallium nitride, a substance better known as GaN. GaN circuits are used to build radars that emit stronger signals and boast greater sensitivity. The GaN-based transmitters will not need to be recertified over the life of the missile.
The tech has already been 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.
The Army held a Sense-Off competition to speed development of the Patriot replacement radar and complete a modernization program as early as 2022.
The winning Raytheon Technologies LTAMDS design is a simultaneous 360-degree, Active Electronically Scanned Array radar powered by the company's GaN circuits, which strengthen the radar signal and enhance its sensitivity.
The Army has different types of missiles in its inventory, but it doesn't have to replace all of those interceptors when it replaces its radars.