Raytheon now fields an ISR advice team

Singapore Air Show » 2008
February 17, 2008, 10:39 PM

Raytheon believes that the global market for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) equipment is worth $20 billion over the next five years alone. As the provider of some notable airborne ISR systems to the U.S. armed forces, the company would obviously like to grab a good slice of the export action, too. But there are problems, such as affordability, and U.S. government export restrictions.

So the company’s Space and Airborne Systems (SAS) division is reinventing itself as an ISR consultant. “We’re approaching countries and offering to analyze their needs,” James Hvizd told AIN. Until recently, Hvizd was a business development director for Raytheon SAS. “We’re not just selling sensors, we’re listening to customers and coming up with solutions. This is not a Raytheon technical push–we are just as likely to develop a team with other suppliers,” he added.

“We’re platform agnostic,” noted Tom Kennedy, an SAS vice president. Unlike rivals Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, Raytheon does not make aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It sold the Hawker and Beechcraft lines last year. However, Raytheon still recommends the Beechcraft King Air 350 as a suitable ISR platform “for countries that can’t afford larger aircraft,” said Kennedy. In fact, Raytheon has already sold more than 20 HISAR radar reconnaissance systems on the King Air to U.S. and international customers.

According to Hvizd, other suitable platforms could include the EADS-CASA C-212/235/295 series of twin turboprops, Lockheed’s C-130 and the Bombardier Global Express. Raytheon has adapted the latter for the UK Royal Air Force as part of the ASTOR (airborne stand-off radar) system. For other countries, Hvizd said Raytheon could substitute different sensors on the same high-flying business jet. “We could leverage the outer mold line of the ASTOR and avoid the need to recertify the aircraft,” he said.

Raytheon could be in a good position to advise countries on whether to choose a manned or unmanned solution. It developed the imaging sensor suite for the U.S. Air Force Global Hawk, and EO/IR systems for the Predator and Reaper UAVs. Furthermore, Raytheon also has experience in the growing role of “nontraditional ISR,” performed by sensors such as the company’s ATFLIR targeting pod fitted to combat aircraft. These have sufficiently good resolution to be a substitute for dedicated ISR sensors when data-linked, albeit with narrower fields-of-view.

Another division of Raytheon supplied the ground stations for the Global Hawk and the ASTOR, and is the prime contractor for the U.S.-distributed common ground stations (DCGS). According to Kennedy, DCGS has become “the ‘Google’ of ISR–it integrates every single asset so users can request images by location, by resolution and date, not by type of aircraft.” 

But the DCGS technology is highly classified. The same is true of some Raytheon radar technology, including parts of the active electronically scanned array system that the company provides for Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Hornet combat aircraft. One of the biggest earners for Raytheon SAS is an entirely “black” program–the littoral surveillance radar system that is being fitted to an increasing number of U.S. Navy P-3 maritime patrol aircraft. Raytheon is also providing the maritime surveillance radar for the P-3’s successor, the P-8 Poseidon.

According to Kennedy, “The algorithms that we have developed during our P-3 and P-8 work are scaleable and can be tweaked for higher and lower resolution, and for what’s exportable.”  Hvizd said the U.S. will approve sensitive radar technology for release to certain countries, provided that strict supervision is exercised on an ongoing basis.

This seems important, since maritime surveillance is one of the key mission areas that Raytheon wants to address overseas. Hvizd said the company is talking to five countries, but would not name them. “We’re actively engaged with Australia, India and Japan,” said Kennedy.

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