Raytheon has been awarded a contract to start incorporating Gallium Nitride (GaN) components into the US Missile Defense Agency's existing and future AN/TPY-2 radars.

The transition to GaN technology is expected to further modernise the ballistic missile defence radar and reduce system obsolescence.

AN/TPY-2 radars currently use Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) based transmit / receive modules to emit high power radiation.

Raytheon integrated defence systems mission systems and sensors business area vice-president  Dave Gulla said: "GaN components have significant, proven advantages when compared to the previous generation GaAs technology.

"Through this effort, Raytheon will develop a clear modernisation upgrade path for the AN/TPY-2 radar, enabling the system to better defend people and critical assets against ballistic missile threats at home and abroad."

"GaN components have significant, proven advantages when compared to the previous generation GaAs technology."

The GaN technology has the ability to enhance range, detection and discrimination performance while reducing production costs, Raytheon said in a statement.

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The AN/TPY-2 transportable X-band radar protects civilians and infrastructure in the US, deployed military personnel, and allied nations and security partners from the growing ballistic missile threat.

Used by warfighters, AN/TPY-2 continually searches the sky for ballistic missiles.

The system uses its radar and complex computer algorithms to discriminate between warheads and non-threatening counter-measures, according to Raytheon.

More than 6,300 ballistic missiles are currently in use outside of US, Nato, Russian and Chinese control, and this number is expected to grow to almost 8,000 by the end of the decade.

Image: Raytheon's AN/TPY-2 continually searches the sky for ballistic missiles. Photo: courtesy of Raytheon Company.