Soldiers See – And Touch – Raytheon Technologies' Full-Scale GhostEye
Air and missile defense sensor built and named by Raytheon Missiles & Defense is hitting all the marks
From the start, the approach to the U.S. Army’s revolutionary Air and Missile Defense radar broke the mold.
The competition culminated with a “Sense Off,” a chance for industry to put designs to the test and earn the contract award. Since selection in October 2019, Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business, has continually set new standards for involving the customer and end users – the Army and its soldiers – in every phase of development.
It’s one thing to hear a project is going well. But it’s much better to see it for yourself – and to have a chance to make it even better.
That’s the thinking behind “soldier touchpoints,” meetings of groups of soldiers and the Raytheon Missiles & Defense team that’s building GhostEye™, the business’ new name for a family of radars that starts with the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor, or LTAMDS, that the company is making for the U.S. Army. It is a next-generation radar designed to defeat complex and evolving threats, such as hypersonic weapons.
“Delivery of our first full-scale GhostEye to the test site signified that it was hitting all the marks,” Raytheon Missiles & Defense's U.S. Requirements and Capabilities Director Bob Kelley said. “The actual radar was sensing, less than a year from contract award in 2019.”
End user involvement
Since September 2020, four soldier touchpoint events have not only offered Army teams a chance to see the radar up close, but they’ve also enabled these soldiers to give crucial early feedback about the prototype — to decide which design considerations are of the highest priority to the user whose input informs potential improvements in every phase of development.
“Providing the warfighter’s early input during each phase of the program has given Raytheon Missiles & Defense an unparalleled ability to deliver the right capability, at the right time, to the U.S. Army,” said Eric Maule, an associate director in U.S. Requirements and Capabilities with Raytheon Missiles & Defense who has participated alongside the U.S. government during touchpoint events.
These meetings are held at either a Raytheon Missiles & Defense site where the radar is being built or at the test site where the radar is being put through its paces to test and prove its exceptional capabilities. At the soldier touchpoints, the mere sight of the radar kickstarts discussions on all kinds of topics like tactical deployment, march order and emplacement, and the replacement and removal of parts.
Touchpoints are a proven approach. A similar process influenced the design and production of another Raytheon Missiles & Defense product, called the Warfighter Machine Interface, or WMI. It’s a user-friendly control system for the Patriot air and missile defense system, and soldiers provided feedback to the designers and engineers to ensure that it met user expectations.
At the first soldier touchpoint for the GhostEye radar, in September 2020, the Army arrived in force with a diverse team of soldiers, including personnel from the Air and Missile Defense test detachment, Army Capability management, Army Futures Command and the Program Executive Office Missiles and Space.
“This team was eager to roll up their sleeves and help clarify user concepts of operations and employment requirements,” Maule said.
Teaming up highlights the pivotal cooperation between Raytheon Missiles & Defense and the Army. What the company’s GhostEye team does on the new sensor is a collective effort with the Army.
“Soldier touchpoint events have provided Raytheon Missiles & Defense with an unprecedented opportunity for user involvement,” said Justin Weissert, Pre-Planned Program Improvement (P3I) sustainment technical lead for Raytheon Missiles & Defense and also the lead for the GhostEye soldier touchpoints.
“The team thinks in terms of ‘we’ as in ‘we are in it together’ and ‘we’re doing it with the Army’,” Kelley said. “It’s a complete collaboration.”
For example, Army soldiers are embedded in Raytheon Missiles & Defense’s GhostEye technical and production teams. They join program meetings, ready to engage if and when any challenges arise.
The program’s success goes beyond conducting meetings that solicit user input; it’s also due to the company’s ability to turn that feedback into reality. For example, just a few months after the first soldier touchpoint, a critical design change was made to the array and stow locking mechanisms. This update will be in place on the unit that will be sent to the White Sands Missile Range for testing at the end of 2022. Other input has also resulted in an access door handle redesign that’s planned to be installed before full materiel release, when the Army decides the system meets all of its operational, safety, and suitability requirements.
The team has scheduled another soldier touchpoint for mid-November 2021 at the company’s Immersive Design Center in Massachusetts.
The origins of GhostEye
The journey began in the summer of 2019, when the U.S. Army conducted a “Sense Off” competition to create a next-generation radar to help defeat increasingly complex and technologically advanced threats. Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a business of Raytheon Technologies, answered the call with its revolutionary radar, now named GhostEye.
How quickly it all evolved. Since contract award in October 2019, Raytheon Missiles & Defense built the first radar antenna array in less than 120 days and delivered a radar to the test site in record time. Progress hasn’t stopped since.
“The progress being made, advancing the radar toward delivery is a testament to this government-industry team,” added Bill Patterson, the program director for GhostEye at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “Our success resonates at the highest levels of the air and missile defense community, acknowledging that the program’s performance is meeting requirements and recognizing the significant operational investment the company has made to support its GhostEye capability and production capacity.”
Built by Raytheon Missiles & Defense, GhostEye is a 360-degree radar that uses active electronically scanned array, or AESA, and gallium nitride, or GaN, a circuit material that strengthens the radar signal and enhances its sensitivity for longer range, higher resolution and more capacity. The radar provides greater capability against proliferating and more stressful threats. Raytheon Missiles & Defense has made significant investments over the past two decades in AESA technology, gallium nitride technology and advanced manufacturing.
The result: a radar with significantly improved sensor performance and reliability. And, in recognition of its phenomenal power, performance and capability, GhostEye is Raytheon Missiles & Defenses new name for the first in a family of radars that starts with the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor for the U.S. Army.