A Patriot air and missile defense radar on location at McGregor Range in White Sands New Mexico Photo courtesy of Raytheon

Software and Radar Upgrades Outfit Patriot Missiles

Feb. 3, 2014
A new digital processor is potentially capable of increasing the Patriot missile’s radar reliability by 40%.

The Patriot Air and Missile Defense (AMD) system is said to be the cornerstone of the defense architecture for 12 nations around the globe. Over 150 missiles have been flight-tested since 2009. As part of Raytheon’s annual Field Surveillance Program (FSP), nine Patriot missiles recently engaged inbound and outbound, unmanned air-breathing targets. This marks the first FSP utilizing Patriot Advanced Capability-2 (PAC-2) missiles with upgraded Post Deployment Build-7 (PDB-7) software and modernized radar with a radar digital processor.

The upgraded PDB-7 software leverages the missile hardware with improvements to the radar and battle-management command, control, communication computers, and intelligence (BM4CI) areas. The Patriot system uses C-band phased-array radars for tracking, classifying, identifying, and discriminating targets. Communications Relay Groups and Antenna Mast groups enable communication between battery and battalion assets.  

Using color liquid-crystal displays (LCDs), touchscreens, and soft keys, the new Modern Man Station (MMS) improves situational awareness and decision-making during tactical operations. It allows soldiers to quickly differentiate between threats and non-threats and act appropriately with less risk of confusion.

Another addition is the Radar Digital Processor (RDP), a ruggedized commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) processor. Supposedly, it provides a tenfold improvement in the reliability of the digital-processing system and related analog components. Such reliability improvements in the processor alone increase the radar’s overall reliability by a predicted 40%. These enhancements also pave the way for future capabilities that can be provided via software upgrades, such as improved target detection and identification, multifunction surveillance, and full support of advanced PAC-3 missile enhancements.

The Patriot’s computer processing has improved by several orders of magnitude, thanks to the Modern Adjunct Processor (MAP). This expandable processing platform also aids the integration of current technology, such as the MMS, as well as future technologies that are still in development. The MAP promises to provide the Patriot missile with greater efficiency and safety while decreasing the system’s lifecycle costs.

Patriot missiles provide protection against a variety of advanced threats including aircraft, tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Continuously updated and modernized, Patriots are expected to be in service through 2048 and beyond. The goal of the missile system is to provide an interoperable network and a cost-effective solution to meet future air and missile defense (AMD) requirements.

About the Author

Iliza Sokol | Associate Digital Editor

Iliza joined the Penton Media group in 2013 after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a BS in Advertising and Marketing Communications. Prior to joining the staff, she worked at NYLON Magazine and a ghostwriting firm based in New York.

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