Northrop Grumman and Raytheon are embracing the U.S. Navy’s Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) program as a way to break the Lockheed Martin Aegis system’s lock on naval integrated ship and ballistic missile defense (BMD).

But Lockheed officials point to their more than 40 years of experience developing and deploying Aegis as a reason the company should be favored for AMDR work.

While the recent Aegis Advanced Capability Build (ACB) 12 upgrade with its multimission signal processor has added some limited integrated air and missile defense capability, AMDR is the first Navy radar that will be “purpose-built” for those simultaneous functions, notes Capt. Doug Small, AMDR program official at Naval Sea Systems Command (Navsea).

“The AMDR is more sensitive than SPY radar,” Small says. “Ballistic-missile-defense targets drive radar sensitivity. There’s no substitute for having detect-and-track at a long distance.”

But, Small says, “to do simultaneous air defense [with BMD], you have to spend less time doing air defense. It’s a radar resource issue.”

AMDR is solving that issue with digital beamforming, which will allow the radar to form and use a series of beams to locate and track targets. “The ability to create multiple beams digitally means you spend less time doing other certain functions,” Small says.

Lockheed says it demonstrated S-band digital phased-array antenna beamforming during recent trials at the Navsea testing site at Wallops Island, Va., through a joint U.S./U.K. radar effort as part of the Advanced Radar Technology Integrated System Testbed (Artist), which combines advanced, multifunction, S-band, active, phased-array radars (Aerospace DAILY, April 22).

“The technology is matured and ready to enter full engineering development for fielding on the Navy’s Flight III DDG,” says Brad Hicks, Lockheed Martin vice president of naval radar programs.

Leveraging its work and experience with active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radars for aircraft, Northrop has its own U.S. digital beamforming program — the U.S. Marine Corps’ Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar (G/ATOR), which features an 8 X 10.5-ft. panel of several hundred multichannel transmit-receive modules with distributed receivers and exciters for anti-air warfare modes.

“We don’t see another way around this [AMDR] except with an AESA, “ says Arun Palusamy, Northrop’s director of integrated air and missile defense and naval strategy.

Northrop Grumman has an equity stake in an Australian company, CEA Technologies, which is delivering an advanced AESA S-band radar and X-Band illuminators for the Royal Australian Navy’s Anzac-class anti-ship missile defense upgrade program.

Further, the company touts its past shipbuilding participation in the DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer program, which initially was planned to mate X- and S-band radars in an AMDR-like suite atop a composite deckhouse structure. A similar radar suite is being developed for the CVN-78 Ford-class aircraft carriers.

The DDG-1000 radar suite since has been scaled back, but Navy officials acknowledge that the vessel’s Dual-Band Radar was a stepping-stone to AMDR.

The prime contractor for the DDG-1000 radar system is Raytheon, which also teamed with Northrop on the Cobra Judy Replacement program that marries a shipboard S-band phased array with an X-band dish to collect BMD data.

“AMDR is similar to the work [on] Zumwalt, CVN-78 and Cobra Judy,” says Denis Donohue, Raytheon’s director of above-water sensors.

“The program is very, very important to us,” adds Jim Barry, Raytheon’s technical director for seapower capabilities. “It’s right at our sweet spot.”