The U.S. Air Force (USAF) completed a series of ‘SpeedDealer’ live-fly demonstrations on Sept. 26 to evaluate three commercially available, production-ready and deployable long-range radar systems.
Three radar systems designed by three separate companies participated in the demonstration. Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman participated in the demo under Other Transaction Agreements (OTAs), and CEA Technologies, an Australian firm, demonstrated their system through a Foreign Comparative Test project award.
The demonstrations were led by a team within the Digital Directorate headquartered at Hanscom Air Force Base. Under the terms of the authorities, each company shared the cost of participating in the demonstration.
Personnel from the Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR) program office expect to announce details of a follow-on integration and production contract in early 2021 after technical reviews. The selected system is expected to be fully deployable by 2024.
“We have more hurdles to cross, but completion of the SpeedDealer demos is a significant step that provided the information we needed to make decisions and drive the program forward,” said Lt. Col. Matt Judge, deputy program manager, 3DELRR. “We have the right people with the right experience and leadership support, so we’re all in to cross the finish line and ensure our Airmen have the radar they need to win the next fight.”
3DELRR will be the principal Air Force ground-based sensor for long-range surveillance, detection and tracking of aerial targets in support of theater commanders and will replace Northrop-Grumman’s AN/TPS-75 radar. The 3DELRR radar will enhance battlespace awareness through detection and reporting of highly maneuverable, small radar cross section targets. Moreover, it will provide air controllers with a precise, real-time picture of sufficient quality to conduct control of individual aircraft under many operational conditions.
The program office canceled a delayed development contract wit Raytheon late last year, after determining that production-ready systems were available that could deliver the capability faster.
In January 2020, the team at Hanscom AFB unveiled “SpeedDealer,” their new acquisition strategy for rapidly testing this new production-ready deployable radar system. The demonstration allowed the Air Force to assess the military utility of the systems to perform the 3DELRR mission.
“Our combatant commanders need the capability to rapidly detect, identify, and neutralize modern air threats, and they need modern radars to do that,” said Col. Michael Harm, Theater Battle Control Division senior materiel leader. “We saw the need to reinvent how we acquire radar systems because the old acquisition method of taking years to build new systems was much too slow.”
“SpeedDealer” seeks to take advantage of advances in radar technology by utilizing production-ready systems already on the marketplace.
“Our market research showed some of these systems already met our requirements,” Judge said. “So we briefed the Air Force senior acquisition executive, Dr. Will Roper, in November 2019, and he gave us the green light to pursue a rapid prototyping middle tier acquisition approach the following month.”