PAC-3 MSE to feature new radar technology

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PAC-3 MSE to feature new radar technology


A computer graphic representing what Raytheon's 360-degree, three-AESA array radar will look like. Source: Raytheon

Proposed advancements to the Raytheon Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) air and missile defence system will feature new, state-of-the-art radar technology that addresses some of the traditional shortcomings of the original design configuration.

Raytheon officials would not comment on the record to IHS Jane's because of the sensitivity of the technology and the process of receiving US government approval to offer it to export customers. However, these technological advancements will no doubt be a boost to the company's efforts in relation to its competitors in foreign markets.

"One of the chief drawbacks to the Patriot has always been its reliance on a set of four, 90 o radars that were needed to secure full hemispheric coverage," said a former US Army Patriot battery operator who now works in the US defence industry. "This added to the footprint of the system and was a minus in being able to participate in rapid deployment operations."

The manufacturers of competing systems have up until now pointed out that their use of a single, 360 o radar makes their systems easier to transport and deploy than the PAC-3, "but their designs still employ a conventional, rotating array", said a US industry executive familiar with the Raytheon technology. "The next-gen solution that Raytheon is offering is a set of three active electronically scanned arrays [AESAs] with overlapping fields of coverage in which the data from the three arrays is processed into a single, full hemispheric air picture," he added.

One of the key customers that Raytheon is hoping to interest with this design is Poland, which has been entertaining offers for a new air and missile defence system for more than four years. Earlier this month Raytheon announced that it would develop the 360 oIdenfication Friend or Foe (IFF) antenna for this radar in conjunction with the Bumar Elektronika division of Polski Holding Obronny (PHO) in a bid to convince Poland's armed forces to select the PAC-3 for their Wisla 'Shield of Poland' national programme.

A lengthy analysis by one of Poland's prominent national security think-tanks has prompted a new round of debate over what criteria should be used in procuring the Wisla system. The three main contenders still in the running are Raytheon, the three-nation Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) consortium comprising Lockheed Martin in the United States and the MBDA divisions in Germany and Italy, and the Eurosam SAMP/T (Surface-to-Air Missile Platform/Terrain) system from MBDA and Thales in France.

The objective of the report, developed by the Casimir Pulaski Foundation in Warsaw, "was not to indicate the best solution, but to present members of government authorities with indications to be considered when choosing a specific anti-aircraft system for Poland's air defence requirement". The foundation is a prestigious defence and foreign affairs think-tank that has close relations with the president of Poland's Biuro Bezpieczenstwa Narodowego (National Security Bureau, or BBN), headed by General Stanislaw Koziej.

What Polish officials such as Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski see as an inadequate response by EU states in light of Russian actions in Ukraine has also influenced the findings of this study. "The [Raytheon PAC-3 MSE] Patriot missile system is the most combat-proven solution most widely used by other countries," states the Pulaski report. "This makes it a relatively safe proposal. Acquisition of this system would also most likely strengthen transatlantic relations." The latter phrase refers to the belief by some Polish decision-makers that only Washington will eventually take a robust stand against Russia's President Vladimir Putin as he continues to destabilise Ukraine, which is Poland's southeastern neighbour.

PAC-3 MSE to feature new radar technology - IHS Jane's 360