|This is like the CLAM SHELL target engagement radar in S-300 battalions, only much taller, and hence potentially much better. An early warning and target engagement radar at 3000ft overhead the Patriot battery should increase its tracking range of very low altitude threats by several times, and would provide the potential of being able to engage even very low flying targets out to the very limit of the missile's theoretical flight envelope. This could be a big boost to air defense of Okinawa and Guam from Chinese land attack cruise missiles, for example. This could take a serious chop at the foundation of some of these error-riddled RAND briefings and similar theories that some people seem to hang all their anti-American hopes and dreams upon.
Cruise Missile Defense Capabilities Within Reach
Aug 28, 2009
The U.S. Army's Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Sensor (JLENS) System, which uses aerostats to elevate sensors for long-range target detection and tracking for superior land-attack cruise missile defense, demonstrated its first flight during a ceremony in Elizabeth City, N.C.
This flight reflects the maturity and operability of the JLENS platform - an aerostat platform that features long-duration, wide-area, over-the-horizon detection and tracking of low-altitude cruise missiles.
Its capabilities provide battlefield commanders with enhanced situational awareness and elevated communications, enabling sufficient warning to engage air defense systems and defeat threats. The flight demonstration marked the first time a JLENS aerostat was elevated to an altitude of 3,000 feet.
"JLENS makes our current weapons systems more effective," said Lt. Col. Steve Wilhelm, project manager for the JLENS program. "Missiles that were once limited by their organic radars can now meet their full kinematic potential because of the extended ranges provided by JLENS radars. This first flight brings us one step closer to providing that capability."
Raytheon is the prime contractor and system integrator for JLENS. TCOM, as a subcontractor to Raytheon, manufactures the aerostat.
"JLENS' unique capability builds on Raytheon's innovative air and missile defense history integrating SLAMRAAM, Patriot and multiple existing systems to protect our nation and allies from cruise missiles," said Pete Franklin, vice president for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems' National and Theater Security Programs.
"We are confident in the maturity and the agility of the system to adapt to evolving threats as well."
The JLENS orbit (system) uses two advanced elevated sensor systems to support surface-to-air missile systems in performing over-the-horizon intercepts of land attack cruise missiles, and detection and tracking of large caliber rockets, surface-moving targets, and theater ballistic missiles in the ascent phase.
The surveillance sensor performs wide area surveillance and fire control sensor cueing. A multi-functional fire control sensor then performs sector surveillance, provides combat identification support, and supports intercepts.
Each sensor is deployed on a 74M(tm) aerostat tethered to a mobile mooring station and connected to ground-based communication and processing equipment. This provides the warfighter with a low-altitude single integrated air picture and the ability to conduct air-directed surface-to air missile engagements.
Earlier this year, JLENS successfully conducted a critical design review (CDR) representing a key milestone in the U.S. Army program. The CDR thoroughly assessed all aspects of the JLENS design maturity and confidence for the $1.4 billion system design and demonstration contract. With this milestone completed, the JLENS program transitioned into the fabrication, assembly, integration and test phase.