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Raytheon advanced missile defense sensor demonstrates technology breakthrough

The Advanced Discriminating Ladar (laser radar) Technology (ADLT) system being developed by Raytheon Company successfully detected and resolved re-entry-like targets at significant ranges and tactical processing speeds during recent testing at the U.S. Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command (USASMDC) in Huntsville, Ala. The tests, which began July 28 and continued through Aug. 22 at the USASMDC’s Advanced Measurements Optical Range (AMOR) on Redstone Arsenal, marked the first time the technology has demonstrated capability against tactical scenarios in real time. Under the Army’s ADLT program, Raytheon is developing a Range-Resolved, Doppler Ladar Imaging (RRDI) system to enhance exoatmospheric kill vehicles with additional discrimination capability. Raytheon’s Missile System business in Tucson, Ariz., which is developing ADLT, is also a key team member developing the Ground-based Missile Defense System’s Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle.

“The ADLT laser radar is measuring a new type of target features in real time at tactical ranges. It provides additional characteristic features to discriminate re-entry vehicles from decoys and other countermeasures. This breakthrough paves the way to incorporating this enhanced discrimination capability into future kill vehicles,” said Randy Hill, Raytheon’s ADLT program manager. The ADLT system uses an ultra stable laser transmitter to interrogate targets much like a radar system. The reflected energy from targets is received and Doppler-processed to first gather range and velocity data and then create a Range-Resolved Doppler Image which yields the target’s micro-dynamics. A key advantage to this approach is the very long ranges at which target objects can be resolved. The ADLT system will provide an increased level of discrimination capability for ground and/or sea-based midcourse interceptors in the future against the most difficult threat countermeasures. Although it was designed with exoatmospheric kill vehicles in mind, it has the potential to provide enhanced capability for future versions of many other exoatmospheric missile systems.