Congress asking questions about Patriot's modernization
The Subcommittee for the Armed Forces of the US House of Representatives is aiming to withhold the funding of programs earmarked for the Patriot air and missile defense systems, until the Analysis of Alternatives (AoA), that is conducted in that respect, is completed. The provision includes both modernization of the existing equipment (including the radar), and introduction of the mobile launchers of the MEADS system and rotating radar sets.
According to the draft of amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (a bill that sanctions the funding of the US armed forces in the fiscal year 2016) the funds earmarked for the programs related to the Patriot air and missile defense system could not be used until the subcommittee to the Congress the results of the AoA regarding the modernization of the Patriot system.
The scope of the amendments draft for the NDAA concerns the capability modernization of "lower tier" system (which is how the Patriot system is described in the US) in the area of radar set, its development and modernization. The House of Representatives officials have also proposed withholding the funds for modifications of the Patriot's launcher electronic systems.
The work in the framework of the Analysis of Alternatives are going to be completed by September 2015. According to the information published by Inside Defense, under the examination conducted by the office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation CAPE, a unit reporting to the Defense Department, both the existing Patriot system components modernization is considered (including the radar sets) as well as introduction of new components.
Among the alternatives, the use of the MFCR radar set of the MEADS system was listed, and also developing by 2021 a completely new (probably rotating) radar based on gallium nitride technology, that potentially may feature better parameters than the MFCR, while providing the full 360 degrees capability. Moreover, using the mobile launcher of the MEADS system is being considered.
As earlier mentioned, the Congress representatives expect that the Analysis of Alternatives will be completed in September 2015. In the NDAA amendments draft it was emphasized that the Committee's intention is not to limit the funding for programs or technologies which were supposed to support the Patriot's modernization, regardless of the outcome of the AoA.
The Congressmen have also indicated that the modernized Patriot capability is important for the U.S. Army's capabilities in regard to Air and Missile Defense. The proposal to withhold the funding of programs related to Patriot systems until the completion of the Analysis of Alternatives however is another proof that the final shape of the Air and Missile Defense system of the U.S. Army has not yet been defined.
In result, it could not be determined at the moment with certainty, what will be the shape and scope of modernization work undertaken by the U.S. Army (on the Patriot system). It may (but does not have to) come out that the Patriot systems used by the Americans will have a completely new type of radar sets.