Center awards major long range radar contract

  • Published
  • By Benjamin Newell
  • 66th Air Base Group public Affairs

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center here awarded the Raytheon Co. a $52.6 million contract May 11 for the Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar system.

The 3DELRR system will replace the aging AN/TPS-75, or Tipsy 75, as the principal Air Force ground-based sensor for long range surveillance, detection and tracking of aerial targets in support of theater commanders.

“Our warfighter customer has been waiting to replace its aging AN/TPS-75 for a long time,” said Col. Michael Harm, AFLCMC-Hanscom’s Senior Materiel Leader and Program Manager for 3DELRR. “Awarding the 3DELRR contract is a huge step toward that end.”

The 3DELRR 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.

“Our charge is to deliver a modern and sustainable 3DELRR capability to operators and maintainers in the field,” said Lt. Col. Michael Alexander, AFLCMC-Hanscom’s Materiel Leader and Deputy Program Manager for 3DELRR. “We are excited about what the future holds, particularly as it relates to the performance and affordability of 3DELRR.” 

The contract was originally awarded in October 2014, but the program re-entered source selection due to protests and appeals. The solicitation was amended in 2016 to include full-rate production options in order to maximize benefits of a competitive environment and set the table for faster fielding of capability after government testing. Full replacement of the AN/TPS-75 systems is expected by 2029.

“Air dominance doesn’t happen without tactical command and control,” said Lt. Col. Johnny McGonigal, commander of the 729th Air Control Squadron, Hill AFB, Utah. McGonigal’s unit currently operates the Tipsy 75 and will eventually field its replacement, the 3DELRR. “At any minute, of any day there’s an Air Operations Center relying on tactical C2 provided by airborne assets like the E-3 Sentry [AWACS] or E-8C Joint STARS, and/or ground-based radar provided by a control and reporting center (CRC), which is able to be more persistent once established.”

According to program managers, the new award balances radar performance with long-term sustainability and maintainability. In addition, 3DELRR incorporates exportability features and open systems architecture early in the design to reduce per-unit production and total life costs.

“3DELRR will offer improvements over older equipment, some of which still contain vacuum-tube technology,” said McGonigal. “We’re really going from the analog age to digital, and that’s going to make us even more effective.”

The contract award covers the engineering and manufacturing development of three production representative units, but allows the ability to exercise options for low-rate production, interim contractor support, and full rate production when appropriate.

 “From both an operational and life cycle sustainment perspective, 3DELRR will greatly improve our current capability,” said Alexander. “It will incorporate an upgradeable open systems architecture.”

In addition to improving battle space awareness, 3DELRR is designed to be readily transportable, decreasing the time between a combatant commander’s request for persistent, ground-based command and control, and when it can be delivered.