The Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) is a midcourse tracking radar that will provide continuous coverage and improved discrimination capabilities for CONUS. It is under development with ground-breaking at Clear Air Force Station in Alaska by the end of 2016 and initial operating capability expected by 2020. The radar is intended to support the layered U.S. BMD defense system to defend against threats emanating from the Pacific and will provide more deployment flexibility for the Sea-Based X-band radar.1
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) released an RFI in March 2014 requesting information about a potential LRDR that “will provide the Warfighter with a persistent midcourse Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) discrimination capability contributing to the MDA mission of developing and deploying a layered BMDS to defend the United States from ballistic missile attacks of all ranges in all phases of flight.” It will provide midcourse tracking to increase effectiveness of homeland GMD infrastructure and Pacific missile defense architecture.
The radar will consist of a solid-state, active electronically-scanned antenna.2 It will operate in the S-band frequency and it will be ground-based and use gallium nitride (GaN) technology that allows for continuous coverage, even when its undergoing maintenance. The radar is expected to improve the U.S. GMD system by providing metric data to enhance discrimination capabilities, or the ability to distinguish lethal objects from debris and decoys.3 It may also support U.S. Air Force space operations, including its situational awareness mission.4
In January 2016, VADM Syring described the LRDR as giving the Homeland BMDS “24/7 long long-range discrimination, precision tracking and hit estimate…to give the warfighter confidence that the shot doctrine can be reduced with much more up to date and much more relevant information for the more complex threats.”5