Raytheon Receives $128M U.S. Air Force Contract to Support Cobra King, Gray Star Radars

Raytheon has been awarded a contract, worth around $128.5 million, for the operation and maintenance of the U.S. Air Force (USAF)’s Cobra King and Gray Star radars under the ‘Mobile Sensors’ program.

The firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract was awarded by the USAF’s Air Combat Command Acquisition Management and Integration Center (ACC AMIC), Detachment 2 based at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.

“This contract provides for non-personal services for operations and maintenance services that will ensure the availability of the Cobra King and Gray Star’s radar facility to collect on 100% of the tasked data collection opportunities that pass through its field of view with the necessary support provided 24 hours per day, 365 days per year”, said a Pentagon statement announcing the contract award.

The contract work will be performed at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, and locations overseas and is expected to be completed by Oct. 31, 2021.

The Cobra King and Gray Star are ballistic missile defense (BMD) radar assets operated by the U.S. Air Force’s Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) but installed onboard vessels operated by the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC).

Both are dual X- and S-band radars and are tasked with space tracking, ballistic missile tracking, and other long-range defense instrumentation missions. They are high-powered and capable of operating from extremely great standoff distances.

The S-band radar primarily conducts large-volume searches and is capable of performing radar tracks and collections on a large number of radar targets. The X-band radar provides high-resolution data on specific radar objects of interest and also has a search capability.

Cobra King radar

Cobra King is a next-generation dual X- and S-band active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system developed as a replacement for the AN/SPQ-11 Cobra Judy passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radar under the Cobra Judy Replacement (CJR) program.

The Cobra King radar suite consists of steerable S- and X-band phased arrays, which expand the data collection capability over the original system.

The radar system is installed onboard the U.S. Navy’s missile range instrumentation ship USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (TAGM-25) but the radar and the missions it performs are operated and executed by the Air Force.

The ship’s crew consists of civilian or contracted Military Sealift Command personnel responsible for the navigation, operations, and maintenance of the ship; a small, specialized group of contractors are utilized for radar operations. An Air Force officer serves as the mission commander.

The Howard O. Lorenzen and her Cobra King radar system were declared operational in August 2014. It replaced the USNS Observation Island (T-AGM-23), which was inactivated for dismantlement earlier in the year. USNS Observation Island carried the Cobra Judy radar system.

The U.S. DOD uses Cobra King to conduct treaty monitoring and verification activities. Additionally, Cobra King can be used to provide data for comparison with other sources during domestic ballistic missile tests.

USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (T-AGM-25)
USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (T-AGM-25)

Gray Star radar

Gray Star is a dual X- and S-band AESA radar system developed as a follow-on to the Cobra Gemini program.

The new radar replaced the Cobra Gemini radar onboard the U.S. Navy missile range instrumentation ship USNS Invincible (T-AGM-24). The radar is operated by the Air Force.

The Gray Star radar is less powerful compared to the Cobra King radar and is used for tracking short-range theater ballistic missiles (TBMs).

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