For many years, the primary emphasis of missile defense efforts for the U.S. and its allies has been on nuclear ballistic weapons, capable of traveling at high speeds and altitudes to hit targets located halfway across the globe. Raytheon Technologies is building a next-generation over-the-horizon radar, offering advanced detection of cruise missiles for protection of the homeland.
However, there is another threat lurking below the radar: cruise missiles, which fly at lower altitudes and slower speeds but can carry destructive payloads, as evidenced by their use in attacks on Ukraine.
One important defense against those threats are surface-based radars that can see over the horizon to provide earlier warning and cue defensive measures.
Leveraging its years of experience as a missile defense systems integrator, Raytheon Technologies is developing a cutting-edge, next-generation over-the-horizon radar to safeguard the homeland. This revolutionary system will have the capability to rapidly detect, track, and classify cruise missiles day or night, in any conditions, including when the northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, are present.
“The next-generation over-the-horizon radar represents a quantum leap forward in our ability to not only detect and track aircraft and surface vessels, but also detect and defend the homeland against cruise missiles and other weapons,” said Paul Ferraro, president of Air Power at Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business. “With its unprecedented sensitivity, this new radar technology will be a game changer, providing our military with an unparalleled advantage in cruise missile defense.”
Over-the-horizon radars have the unique capability to detect objects several hundred to thousands of miles away, surpassing the range of conventional radars. They function within the high-frequency band of 5 MHz to 35 MHz, transmitting powerful radio signals through a large antenna.
What differentiates them from other missile defense systems is their ability to peer over the Earth’s curvature. They achieve this by utilizing a “bank shot” technique – bouncing their signal off the ionosphere, then the target, which reflects the energy back to the ionosphere and eventually to the radar’s receiver.
The next-generation over-the-horizon radar builds on technology and design that power a system known as ROTHR, which the U.S. Navy uses as its primary detection system for border security and drug smuggling.
That system, which stands for Relocatable Over-The-Horizon Radar, is built by Raytheon Technologies. The company’s experts are leading the integration of several advancements in its maritime capabilities.
And that work, naturally, will benefit the development of a first-of-its-kind system, with a 2D array and digital receiver.
“We’re leveraging more than three decades of ROTHR and HF (high frequency) technologies across our portfolios as well as research and investment to deliver a next-generation system built to detect advanced threats,” program manager Jeremy Hurley said.
Systems processing is a critical technology for over-the-horizon radars, and Raytheon Technologies has collaborated with several entities, including the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, and research laboratories, to enhance these systems continuously.
Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Holl, who serves as the director of domain awareness for requirements and capabilities, has stated that Raytheon Technologies has a distinct advantage in integrating advanced solutions from various suppliers. He noted that the company’s experience in integrating systems across multiple domains and platforms has enabled it to ensure seamless interoperability and easy reconfiguration in response to threats, which aligns with the company’s overall business strategy and customer needs.
Key in the integration process is knowing how varying climates across the U.S. can impact over-the-horizon radar technology.
“Raytheon Technologies uniquely understands how to build a product that can work from the Florida Keys to the Alaskan wilderness,” Holl said.
Thanks to digital technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, the new radar not only has increased sensitivity to improve detection, but also can predict where a missile is heading for a more accurate intercept.
“Early detection and tracking are key in missile defense. Every minute counts,” Holl said.
Ensuring a swift deployment schedule is equally essential, and Raytheon Technologies’ established programs and supplier connections will enable them to meet the timeline.
Raytheon Technologies will oversee the system’s production, which entails program management, systems engineering, and integration. It will also create digital receivers and computing devices and provide advanced software.
“The Air Force will be our number-one customer for this technology. We have no other backlog to prevent us from delivering on time,” Holl said. (Press Release)
Post Image Credit- Raytheon
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