As the battlefield changes, so must the systems that defend it.
In the Middle East region, the defense of valuable assets such as oil fields and shipping lanes demands constant evolution to ensure the latest technologies are employed. That’s the approach Raytheon takes with the systems it provides. The company’s weapons are becoming more powerful through rocket boosters, high-tech sensors and advanced algorithms. It buys commanders critical time to make the right decisions.
“We understand the landscape is always changing,” said Chris Davis, Raytheon International Inc. president of UAE operations. “Being adaptive is very important.”
Take, for example, the combat-proven Patriot Integrated Air and Missile Defense System, employed by 13 nations, including members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The premier weapon system for “lower tier” protection of forward operating bases, or FOBs, Patriot is continually upgraded to utilize breakthrough technologies.
In 2016, Raytheon rolled out a new prototype radar for potential use in Patriot. It uses gallium nitride, or GaN, semiconductor technology that enables 360 degrees of protection while cutting operational costs in half. This technology has been approved for export to all Patriot partner nations.
Another combat-proven technology, the Phalanx close-in weapon system, worked so well to defend dozens of surface combatant ships that the U.S. Army deployed a land-based version to protect critical bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Land-based Phalanx is now part of the U.S. Army’s Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar system, or C-RAM.
Phalanx was featured in a Washington Post article on the “impressive guns” that protect U.S. military bases in Afghanistan from the Chinese-made 107mm rockets fired at facilities by Taliban fighters.
“Our experience with Phalanx is one of the reasons the company is considered the world leader in forward operating base protection,” said Davis.
Raytheon engineers continue to look toward the future of FOB defense. The company is working with the U.S. Army on the Accelerated Improved Interceptor Initiative, also known as AI3, which detects and destroys rockets, mortars, unmanned systems and cruise missiles in flight.
“AI3’s success is a great example of the government and industry working together,” said Mike Van Rassen, the U.S. Army’s program director for C-RAM.
Another evolving technology is the AMRAAM air-to-air missile. A new, ground-launched version performs intercepts at longer distances and higher altitudes than ever before.
In August 2016, Raytheon and its global partner Kongsberg successfully flight tested the newest extended-range variant of AMRAAM from the NASAMS launcher. The AMRAAM-ER missile greatly expands the NASAMS launcher’s engagement envelope with a 50 percent increase in maximum range and 70 percent increase in maximum altitude.
“Several Middle Eastern nations are looking at NASAMS for high-value asset protection, and the success of the recent AMRAAM-ER makes it even more attractive,” said Davis. “The system integrates easily with Patriot as well as the Hawk Air Defense system, which is one of the reasons why we’re seeing growing interest.”
NASAMS is in service in Norway, Finland, Spain, the Netherlands and one undisclosed country. In 2014, Oman became the system’s seventh customer and the first in the Gulf region.
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