Floatin’ Smokey: The USA’s SBX Radar
September 25/19: Research And Develoment Support Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems won a $500.6 million contract modification in order to perform research and development support for the Army Navy Transportable Radar Surveillance Control Model-2 and Sea-Based X-Band radar. Raytheon’s nine-story-high X-band Radar is the world’s largest X-band radar. The sea-based X-band platform that it sits on stands more than 250 feet high and displaces more than 50,000 tons. It consists of a semi-submersible oil production platform topped with the XBR. The AN/TPY-2 is a missile defense radar that can detect, classify and track ballistic missiles. It operates in the X-band of the electromagnetic spectrum, which enables it to see targets more clearly, and it has two modes – one to detect ballistic missiles as they rise, and another that can guide interceptors toward a descending warhead. The modification also includes continued product improvement, warfighter support, engineering services, Ballistic Missile Defense System test subject matter experts support, modeling and simulation SME support, and cybersecurity. Work will take place in Woburn, Massachusetts. Period of performance is from November 1, 2017 through October 31, 2022.
As rogue state proliferation by the likes of North Korea made missile defense a growing priority for nations including the USA, Japan, and Israel, the USA began to look at the linchpin of any defense: powerful radars that could both track ballistic missiles, and guide interceptors. The USA has its BMEWS tracking system, but that would not serve. America’s Safeguard ABM system was dismantled long ago – though Russia still maintains its counterpart System A-135 network around Moscow. Something new would be needed.
Enter Raytheon’s new XBR radar, based on an SBX-1 platform that looks a lot like a mobile oil drilling rig. Basing the radar at sea offers numerous advantages. One is the obvious ability to move the radar as threats materialize, allowing much greater coverage with fewer radars. Another is the ability to protect allies, without having to invest in expensive systems whose regional capabilities and value to the USA could be put at risk by the decisions of a single foreign government. In exchange for this freedom from political interference, of course, the designers must contend with nature’s interference in the stormy Pacific.
Boeing SBX system is linked to its land-based GMD (Ground-based Mid-course Defense) missile system but can also operate with other naval and land elements.
The XBR Radar and SBX Platform
The XBR Radar
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