Modernization of the Patriot air and missile defense system continues, with manufacturer Raytheon highlighting a new U.S. development contract worth $71.7 million and the completion of a series of test firings by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF)

But a contract secured in the Middle East has proved to be the catalyst behind recent refinements to the system, company officials said during the Dubai air show.

Raytheon cites that contract, signed in December 2008 by the United Arab Emirates, as the event that allowed them to redesign and re-engineer the system. This resulted in a 2012 “built from the ground up” redesigned Patriot system that is now being made available as an upgrade in kit form.

Upgrades include replacing cathode ray tube technology with 30-in. liquid crystal touchscreen displays, improved computing power, and enhanced upgrade routes for the easy integration of new software packages. An open system architecture has been adopted which will speed future technology insertion and reduce operating costs.

The U.S. Army upgrade contracts specifically cover the Radar Digital Processor (RDP) and Modern Man Station (MMS), based around the LCD screen. The RDP brings a 40% improvement to radar reliability and, Raytheon claims, brings a 12-fold improvement to mean time between failure. Both developments are supported by the new PDB-7 operating system software announced in June and either delivered or pending delivery to each of the Patriot system’s 12 users. The next upgrade, PDB-8, is currently in test.

The Japanese tests, which ran from Sept. 21 to Nov. 2, saw approximately 380 JASDF personnel taking part at the McGregor Range in New Mexico. The test program also involved staff from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which is the prime contractor for Patriot in Japan.