Lawton-area workers support key Army pursuit
A Radar Olympics of sorts was held as part of the competition for a new air and missile defense radar. And key Lawton-area Raytheon engineers played a major role, moving the Army a step closer to a radar transformation.
The U.S. Army decided to hold a radar competition called the Sense-Off to help choose the next generation of its Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS). Fort Sill Raytheon workers spent months gearing up in support of the Sense-off, which was held at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The Army is working toward creating a radar renaissance, to include this next generation radar. The results were put into a proposal and sent to the Army for review, and much of the work was done in this area.
LTAMDS will replace the current PatriotTM anti-missile system radar in the future. The Army’s event tested competing LTAMDS proposals, each vying to be the radar for generations to come.
Raytheon, maker of the Patriot system, demonstrated its advanced technology and ability to meet the Army’s timeline for fielding a new radar in 2022. Raytheon’s proposed LTAMDS solution is a simultaneous 360-degree, Active Electronically Scanned Array radar powered by Raytheon-manufactured Gallium Nitride, a substance that strengthens the radar signal and enhances its sensitivity.
The Raytheon LTAMDS proposal is designed to give the Army tools to prevail against “the tyranny of distance” condition, according to Bob Kelley, Raytheon’s director of IAMD Domestic Programs for Business Development & Strategy, a former Lawton resident.
“The tyranny of distance is most commonly associated with the Pacific theater, where the vast expanse of ocean complicates communications and situational understanding,” Kelley said.
Transformation in real-time
The demo highlighted Raytheon’s proposed future radar in a surveillance and tracking mission with live air targets.
To design its renaissance radar, the company’s engineers worked in a bustling, Silicon Valley-style creative space called the Agile Development Center, or ADC. The space was built to give critical teams an environment to enhance collaboration and rapidly build, innovate, and design. There, engineers were drawing equations on walls, tracking data on dozens of high-tech monitors, building LTAMDS mockups, 3-D printing prototype parts and testing every screw, bolt and handle.
Agile Engineers at work
Raytheon engineers are using Agile Engineering techniques in a whole new way. The approach, which embraces a host of techniques aimed at optimizing creativity and efficiency, emerged from software development practices and is now being used for the hardware design of the proposed radar.
“It’s an incredible experience between the deployment of agile, model-based engineering for hardware product development and the novelty of an entirely new design,” said Russ Souza, a Raytheon mechanical engineer.
With that facility, Raytheon offers a space for instantaneous design updates.
“This is a new way of doing business,” Souza said.
The Army operators have a chance to touch and feel the mockups to get a real sense of using the radar, said Kristal Whelan, a demo engineer for the LTAMDS team. Whelan works in a dedicated prototype room attached to the ADC, which is filled wall-to-wall with hardware mockups intended to prove out or enhance elements of the hardware design.
The team analyzes every aspect of the LTAMDS design, according to Bryce Kirby, a principal engineer who oversees a production team working in the ADC. The facility allows the speed of development sought after by the Army; mobile, fast and innovative, as opposed to the traditional, slow, cumbersome, “waterfall way of working,” he said.
The Sense-Off itself represented an agile, thought-based approach by the Army, requiring competitors to demonstrate value, said Greg Lewis, Agile Deputy Program Manager.
“Demoing value is the essence of what we do in Agile,” he said.
Soldier centered design local in Lawton
Raytheon recognizes that the soldier is a key component of its LTAMDS solution and has accounted for Human Systems Integration factors in areas such as usability and maintainability. Many Whole Life Engineers supporting Raytheon’s LTAMDS development are former users who served as instructors, trainers, operators and maintainers the current Patriot radar.
“Because Raytheon’s proposed LTAMDS is brand new radar, vice a redesigned, modified or upgraded radar, we are able to integrate new concepts to enhance overall effectiveness and reduce long-term life cycle costs,” said Nate Jones, a Senior Whole Life Engineering Manager, based in Lawton.
The process is being led from Andover and Tewksbury, Massachusetts, however, many of the Raytheon employees in the Lawton/Fort Sill area are former operators and maintainers, and work collaboratively to share their experiences and ideas.
Raytheon submitted the LTAMDS proposal to the U.S. Army in mid-July.
“Our proposal offers the Army a brand-new radar that overmatches the future threat,” said Tom Laliberty, Raytheon Vice President of Integrated Air and Missile Defense. “We brought our LTAMDS solution to the U.S. Army’s sensor demonstration and validated our ability to meet their 2022 urgent material release date.”