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AN/TPS-81 Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR)

The Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR) is required to replace the AN/TPS-75, or Tipsy 75, radar as the principal USAF long-range, ground-based sensor for detecting, identifying, tracking, and reporting aircraft and missiles in support of the Joint Forces Air Component Commander through the Ground Theater Air Control System. Full replacement of the AN/TPS-75 systems is expected by 2029.

In 2009, the Air Force began the process of replacing the agency’s outdated AN/TPS-75 radar system with a gallium-nitride-based 3DELRR system. The agency intended the new modules to “be the principal USAF long-range, ground-based sensor for detecting, identifying, tracking, and reporting aerial targets” for the Air Force on the battlefield. The agency opened the technology development phase of the procurement, i.e., design of a 3DELRR system at technology readiness level (TRL) 6, by awarding development contracts to two offerors: Lockheed Martin Corporation (Lockheed) and Sensis Corporation (with Raytheon acting as a major subcontractor).

In August 2012, the Air Force entered the next stage of the procurement, the preengineering, manufacturing and development (EMD) procurement phase, awarding three 15-month contracts to Lockheed, Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation (Northrop), and Raytheon for design reviews and a prototype test event. On April 24, 2013, the Air Force issued a limited sources J&A to restrict the competition to Lockheed, Northrop, and Raytheon.

On 06 October 2014, the U.S. Air Force awarded Raytheon a contract for engineering and manufacturing development of a new expeditionary radar that will detect, identify and track drones, missiles and aircraft.

The $19.5 million fixed-price incentive firm contract covers the engineering, manufacturing and development of three three-dimensional expeditionary long-range radar (3DELRR ) systems. With all options included, the contract was estimated estimated at $71.8 million and includes the procurement of an additional three radar systems, for a total of six radar systems and product support.

Under the first agreement, there are priced options for defense exportability features designs, an 18-month low-rate initial production (LRIP) and three one-year options for interim contractor support. During the EMD phase, Raytheon will design and manufacture a total of three radars that will undergo contractor and government developmental testing and government operational testing. Three more radars will be built under the LRIP option, for a total of six, to achieve initial operational capability in 2020. A follow-on, full-rate production contract will deliver the remaining 29 systems.

Raytheon's 3DELRR system is a gallium nitride (GaN)-based radar that operates in the C-band of the radio frequency spectrum. By using GaN, Raytheon was able to affordably increase the radar's range, sensitivity and search capabilities. C-band also offers the military increased flexibility because that portion of the spectrum is relatively uncongested.

Components of the new radar will include an antenna array, signal and data processors, rotating assembly, identification friend or foe system and various other subsystems. Radar capabilities will include, but are not limited to, improved detection performance for newer targets, stronger clutter rejection, electronic protection, anti-radiation missile countermeasures and an open systems architecture design.

The 3DELRR radar is one of the first programs under the DoD's Better Buying Power initiative to be designed for exportability, enabling U.S. forces, allies and security partners to benefit from the system. The system will serve as the US Air Force's primary long-range, ground-based sensor for detecting, identifying, tracking and reporting aerial targets -- replacing the legacy TPS-75 system.

It is possible that the USMC will align their AN/TPS-59 product improvement/upgrade initiative with this effort. The primary mission of the 3DELRR will be to provide long-range surveillance, control of aircraft, and theater ballistic missile detection. The 3DELRR will provide air controllers with a precise, real-time air picture of sufficient quality to conduct close control of individual aircraft under a wide range of environmental and operational conditions.

In the case of theater missile defense operations, the new radar will have the capability to detect, track, and disseminate target information to respective command and control nodes such as the USAF Control and Reporting Center to disseminate for warning and engagement. Similarly, the joint targeting process will benefit from trajectory information provided by the 3DELRR, which will include launch and impact location. The 3DELRR will correct current radar system shortfalls by providing the capability to detect and report highly maneuverable, small radar cross section targets as well as classify and determine the type of a non-cooperative aircraft. It will also mitigate most of the sustainability and maintainability concerns which plague the current system.

This new radar will give the GTACS real-time display of all air activity and be rugged enough to support a wide range of deployed operations in all types of weather and terrain conditions. It will also provide sufficient advanced warning and target information to allow for threat evaluation and responsive action.

The 3DELRR will provide air controllers with a precise, real-time air picture of sufficient quality to conduct close control of individual aircraft under a wide range of environmental and operational conditions. In the case of theater missile defense operations, the new radar will have the capability to detect, track, and disseminate target information to respective command and control nodes such as the USAF Control and Reporting Center to disseminate for warning and engagement. Similarly, the joint targeting process will benefit from trajectory information provided by the 3DELRR, which will include launch and impact location.

The 3DELRR will correct current radar system shortfalls by providing the capability to detect and report highly maneuverable, small radar cross section targets as well as classify and determine the type of a non-cooperative aircraft. It will also optimize system sustainability and maintainability.

On November 14, 2013, the Air Force issued the RFP for the next stage of the 3DELRR program. The acquisition was structured as a modified best-value competition under Federal Acquisition Regulation part 15. Proposals were to be evaluated as acceptable or unacceptable on the technical and small business participation factors, with an unacceptable rating on any factor or subfactor rendering the proposal ineligible for award. The RFP contemplated award of a single contract for the engineering and manufacturing and limited production of the chosen system to the offeror with acceptable ratings for the non-price factors and the lowest evaluated price.

All three proposals were evaluated as acceptable on all non-price factors and subfactors, and on October 6, 2014, the Air Force made award to Raytheon as the offeror with the lowest evaluated price. After the agency provided debriefings to Northrop and Lockheed, both firms filed timely protests with GAO, on October 21 and 22, respectively, challenging the award to Raytheon. Both protesters alleged that the agency’s price and technical evaluations were flawed.

The considerable price differential between Northrop’s and Raytheon’s evaluated prices led Northrop to question the realism of Raytheon’s price, and the documents in the agency report revealed misleading discussions. The record showed that the Air Force reversed its position as to the allowability of IR&D after informing Northrop and Raytheon that the use of such funds was not permitted. After conceding the merit of Raytheon’s legal argument, the Air Force failed to inform Northrop of its revised position, which prejudiced Northrop by preventing Northrop from proposing IR&D funds in order to reduce its direct charges to the contract. o Lockheed claimed that the agency failed to reevaluate Raytheon’s CTE at TRL 6 after a design change. The record clearly showed that the agency erred in concluding that Raytheon’s proposal satisfied the solicitation’s requirements.

GAO found that Lockheed’s and Northrop’s protests were clearly meritorious, and the Air Force’s corrective action was unduly delayed. The contract was originally awarded in October 2014, but the program re-entered source selection due to protests and appeals. The solicitation was amended in 2016 to include full-rate production options in order to maximize benefits of a competitive environment and set the table for faster fielding of capability after government testing.

On 29 March 2016, Raytheon lowered its final price to $0 for the discretionary EMD, LRIP, and Interim Contract Support (ICS) CLINs; its total evaluated price was thus $10 million, the same as proposed by Lockheed. The agency reviewed the solicitation and concluded that the 2013 RFP allowed for award of one contract or no contract, but not two contracts. Furthermore, the agency believed that the zero-dollar bids received were predicated on the expectation that the agency would award a single contract for the EMD stage, and that the EMD awardee would then be able to obtain all follow-on work. The agency found “no way to discriminate between the two [proposals] and award the contract.”

The Air Force hoped that adding the requirement for full-rate production for all 29 units--in addition to the 6 units produced under the EMD and LRIP phases--would prevent offerors from proposing similar zero-dollar prices and provide the price differentiation necessary for award. The agency also invited Northrop to rejoin the competition because of the nature of the changes. The agency explained that, “[f]rom a competition standpoint, amending [the solicitation] and allowing Northrop Grumman back in was the same as canceling” the solicitation. Raytheon filed an agency-level protest on July 22, alleging that the agency had violated the FAR by failing to make award to Raytheon’s lowest priced proposal, regardless of whether it also made a second award to Lockheed. On July 25, the agency signed the 2016 J&A to limit competition under the amended solicitation to Lockheed, Northrop and Raytheon. GAO found Raytheon had not articulated how the agency was itself precluded from managing the solicitation in this manner, and therefore found no basis to sustain the protest.

The Air Force planned to award a new development contract in the second quarter of fiscal year 2017, more than 2 years after the original contract award. Prior to the start of development, the program took steps to reduce technical risk and costs by conducting system-level competitive prototyping and analyzing the tradeoffs between costs and requirements. The program's remaining risks may vary based on the design selected for development, although software integration will be a risk regardless of the contractor.

3DELRR's planned design is software-intensive, and program officials identified software development as a risk because, if not performed adequately, subsequent integration of hardware and software could be delayed. Program officials also stated integrating the extensive amount of re-used software code contributed to the level of risk, but noted each contractor is planning to test software prior to integration with the system. In addition, 3DELRR is expected to use a new semiconductor technology, which relies on gallium nitride-based modules for individual radiating elements key to transmitting and receiving electromagnetic signals, rather than the legacy gallium arsenide transmit/receive modules. While the long-term reliability and performance of gallium nitride is unknown and could affect radar sensitivity and power requirements, it has the potential to provide higher efficiency with lower power and cooling demands than legacy semiconductor technology.

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center awarded the Raytheon Company a $52.6 million contract May 11, 2017, for the three-dimensional expeditionary long-range radar system. The new award balances radar performance with long-term sustainability and maintainability. In addition, 3DELRR incorporates exportability features and open systems architecture early in the design to reduce per-unit production and total life costs. The contract award covers the engineering and manufacturing development of three production representative units, but allows the ability to exercise options for low-rate production, interim contractor support, and full rate production when appropriate.




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