Both radars are resistant to jamming and they integrate well with other capabilities, such as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Global Patriot Solutions systems. They are “more of a system of systems than one system with two radars: always there, always helping other systems know where to look,” said Jennifer Woertz, manager of program contracts for Raytheon Missiles & Defense.
AN/TPY-2 and UEWR are the only systems that have been fielded and are in operation right now. Other potential options are still in the development phase and are designed to run on a single frequency. So, another reason it’s a good idea to have two radars for ballistic missile defense is that one radar—even the best out there—is rarely enough.
“A lone radar approach is inherently problematic,” said Chris Salini, technical director of strategic sensor systems at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “When you think of just one product trying to achieve the same goals as AN/TPY-2, which is designed with high frequency to optimize track and discrimination, and UEWR, on the low frequency to optimize early warning surveillance, you’d find a single mid-band radar falling somewhere in the middle in terms of overall performance.”
Multiple radars also allow for what Salini called “a graceful degradation.” That is, if one radar goes down for maintenance or falls to jamming, the defense architecture remains sound. “This architectural advantage is essential for maintenance. It’s also critical, given the emergence of electronic warfare, which would have to focus on jamming multiple radars to defeat the architecture instead of just one.”
Time-tested and updated
AN/TPY-2 and UEWR are key sensors in the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) Missile Defense System. “Data from these radars is collected through the MDA’s Command and Control, Battle Management and Communications system,” Marcley explained. “The MDA uses that information, providing it to effectors to intercept and engage targets. The agency has done many integrated ground and flight tests of these systems that have been fielded over several decades, resulting in successful track records against all classes of ballistic missiles.”
Meanwhile, as the MDA uses the data from AN/TPY-2 and UEWR, Raytheon Missiles & Defense continues to keep these assets ahead of evolving threats through constant system monitoring, sustainment and modernization.
The bottom line, said Woertz, “is that you’re always getting the best surveillance and the best discrimination working together. Anything else is a compromise.”