On the eve of the Air Force Association's annual fall conference inWashington, Northrop Grumman is pitching its G/ATOR multi-mission radaras a candidate to replace the U.S. Air Force's AN/TPS-75 air defenseradar.
Managed by the U.S.Marine Corps' Program Executive Office Land Systems, G/ATOR is beingdesigned to replace five Marine Corps radars to perform air defense,counter-fire target acquisition and air traffic control missions.
Northrop is pitching G/ATOR for the Air Force's Three-DimensionalExpeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR, pronounced Three Dealer)program, an effort to replace the AN/TPS-75 radar, which has been inservice since the late 1960s. 3DELRR, currently in the technologydemonstration phase, is intended to be the Air Force's futurelong-range, ground-based sensor for detecting, identifying, trackingand reporting aircraft and missiles.
At a Sept. 8 media briefing,Northrop officials argued that by selecting G/ATOR, the Air Force couldsave time, money and manpower.
Contracts for the first phase of3DELRR were awarded in May 2009 to a team led by Lockheed Martin andanother led by Sensis Corp.
Northrop anticipates an Air Forcerequest for proposals for the next phase of 3DELRR by the end of thisyear. The request is part of a full and open competition, said JeffPalombo, a Northrop sector vice president and general manager of thecompany's Land Forces Division.
The company is pitching G/ATOR as a 90 percent solution at 50 percent of the cost.
Accordingto Palombo, G/ATOR meets 81 percent of 3DELRR's mission requirementsagainst air-breathing targets and 92 percent of its missionrequirements against theater ballistic missiles.
The Air Forcecould save more than 50 percent of its research and development dollarsif it went with G/ATOR rather than developing its own radar, he said.
Palomboalso said that if the Air Force chose G/ATOR, the larger order woulddrive the cost of the Marine radars down by more than 20 percent.
Accordingto Northrop, by going with G/ATOR, the Air Force could accelerate itsdate for initial operational capability by two years.
Byreplacing five Marine Corps radars, G/ATOR offers cost savings in theform of reduced manpower, going from five crews of four to just onecrew of four. The system also requires far fewer people formaintenance, according to Northrop.
Company officials stressedthat G/ATOR is "no longer in the PowerPoint mode," and reporters weretaken up to the roof of Northrop's facility outside of Baltimore tocheck out the radar's hardware.
The Marine Corps required oneengineering and manufacturing development prototype radar, but Northropdecided to build one more using its own funds to help with testing,Palombo said.
G/ATOR also could serve the U.S. Army. However,that service is not as close as the Air Force to defining itsrequirements for a future multimission radar system, Palombo said.