WASHINGTON — The US Army has awarded phase two contracts to defense firms Raytheon and L3Harris for the development of prototype sensors that will support the service’s next-gen airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance program dubbed HADES.
Under the second phase of the other transaction agreement (OTA), Raytheon and L3Harris will “enhance designs” and build prototype electronic intelligence and communications intelligence sensors. The pair will split $18 million, according to a news release from Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors (PEO IEW&S).
The OTA is part of the Army’s Multi-Domain Sensing System program, a family of systems that will modernize the Army’s aerial ISR capabilities. As the Army pivots to Multi-Domain Operations as its warfighting doctrine, service leaders are looking for a suite of sensors to provide soldiers in commanders with battlefield data, from the forward edge of the battlefield to theater headquarters.
HADES, for which the new ELINT and COMINT sensors are being developed, stands for High Accuracy Detection and Exploitation System and is a prototype airborne ISR system. The HADES platform will integrate multiple intelligence sensors onto a fixed wing, business class jet, replacing the RC-12 Guardrail.
Under phase two, Raytheon and L3Harris will make prototypes that are not only more sensitive than before, but will also need to be faster “to meet specifications, exploit near-peer threats, and integrate into an open system architecture over a 24-month period,” the release states.
“The goal is to provide deep-sensing intelligence collection of indicators and warnings, electronic order of battle, and patterns of life for target development. This will allow standoff operations to detect, locate, identify, and track critical targets for the ground commander,” Dennis Teefy, project director for sensors-aerial intelligence at PEO IEW&S, said in a statement.
The OTA has three phases and is worth a total of $49 million. Following phase two, “up to” two vendors will be selected for phase three, in which they will integrate their prototypes onto contractor-owned, contractor-operated aircraft for a year of flight testing.
Currently, Leidos and L3Harris are operating business jets equipped with ISR assets to inform requirements for HADES. L3Harris has flown its aircraft, called ARES, in the Pacific, while Leidos’ ARTEMIS is flying in Europe right now, including along the Ukrainian border.
“The sensors resulting from the MDSS Sensor Evaluation Program will first be used on the MDSS HADES. The MDSS HADES will be globally deployable and provide a multi-faceted sensing capability at higher altitudes and longer ranges, and with longer endurance than is currently available from the Army’s enduring fleet,” Teefy’s statement said.
At a media day last month, Ronald Rizzo, deputy project director for sensors aerial intelligence, told reporters that the HADES program allowed for an entirely different ISR concept of operations because of the speed and range of business class jets over the Guardrail.
With ARES and ARTEMIS, “we’re able to launch from one area and very quickly get to another area that is much further away in distance. So it opens up the aperture from a mission perspective,” Rizzo said.