U.S. Navy
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Cooling System Helps X-Band Radar Go Green

July 12, 2021
An enhanced cooling system for the X-band SBX radar system has resulted in a significant reduction in power consumption and much less greenhouse gases (CO2) produced.

Climate change is a concern even for defense contractors, to the extent that a major systems designer has modified the cooling system of an X-band radar system for a significant reduction in energy consumption. In partnership with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Raytheon Missiles & Defense replaced the cooling system on the Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX) system with more advanced, environmentally friendly  materials. The result is a large decrease in energy loads and greenhouse gas emissions with improved reliability for the X-band radar. The nine-story-high SBX radar system (see the figure) is the largest electromechanically steered phased-array X-band radar in the world. It provides full-fire control sensor functions for the Ground Based Midcourse Defense system, including search, acquisition, tracking, discrimination, and kill assessment.

The redesigned cooling system reduces the radar’s annual power consumption by an estimated 4,346,000 kW-h. The reduction in power requirements and decrease in reliance on diesel engines to generate the power results in an estimated annual reduction of 17,786 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions. “SBX is one of the most powerful missile defense radars deployed today,” said Kevin Ryan, executive director for Strategic Sensor Systems at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “We were able to decarbonize and reduce environmental impact of the system without sacrificing performance.” With its improved cooling system and lower power requirements, the modified X-band radar system also offers higher reliability and lower maintenance costs.

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