Raytheon invests in advanced, autonomous manufacturing technologies for radar development, testing

Raytheon invests in advanced, autonomous manufacturing technologies for radar development, testing

Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) in Waltham, Mass., has upped its investment in advanced manufacturing innovations, including automated and autonomous technologies, to support complex radar testing and integration. The company’s new $72 million, 30,000 square-foot facility on its Andover, Mass., campus, is now home to some of the industry's leading innovations, and a historic first, in manufacturing, officials say.  
 
The new radar development facility is the primary location for integration and testing of current and future radar programs for U.S. and international customers. AN/SPY-6, the U.S. Navy's next-generation integrated air and missile defense radar, now in low-rate initial production, is one of the largest radars Raytheon has ever built and the first system to enter the space.

Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) in Waltham, Mass., has upped its investment in advanced manufacturing innovations, including automated and autonomous technologies, to support complex radar testing and integration. The company’s new $72 million, 30,000 square-foot facility on its Andover, Mass., campus, is now home to some of the industry's leading innovations, and a historic first, in manufacturing, officials say.  

The new radar facility in Andover supports quality, reliability, repeatability, and delivery speed through:

  • Two near-field radar test ranges, one of which is now the largest in the company;

  • 1.5-megawatt substation to meet power requirements of current and future radar programs;

  • Autonomous material movement via automated guided vehicles; and

  • The aerospace and defense industry's first "dual robotic" system for radar array assembly.

 
"This advanced manufacturing campus now has the ability to work from atoms all the way up to massive radar arrays," explains Sarah Jennette, program manager for the project. "We built the new radar development facility with the future – and our customers – in mind.
 
"From physical size, to power capabilities, to automated tech, we are building for the future of radar," Jennette adds. "As the next step in our advanced manufacturing roadmap, it follows on the heels of our recently announced $100 million radar manufacturing plant to be built in Forest, Mississippi."

Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) in Waltham, Mass., has upped its investment in advanced manufacturing innovations, including automated and autonomous technologies, to support complex radar testing and integration. The company’s new $72 million, 30,000 square-foot facility on its Andover, Mass., campus, is now home to some of the industry's leading innovations, and a historic first, in manufacturing, officials say.  
 
Futuristic automation is at the heart of the new construction, from autonomous material movement in unmanned vehicles to an industry-first, dual-robotic system — think multiple robots working together to build a radar.
 
At the facility, robots are working hand-in-machine with engineers and operators to build powerful radars for the U.S. and allied militaries. Purple and blue lights peak out from the bottom of small, autonomous robot vehicles as they quietly cross the room, carrying materials to the robots that build.
 
“Radars are our bread and butter,” says Bill Tice, director of modernization and innovation at Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems. “The whole thing is about [making radars] efficiently and affordably.”

Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) in Waltham, Mass., has upped its investment in advanced manufacturing innovations, including automated and autonomous technologies, to support complex radar testing and integration. The company’s new $72 million, 30,000 square-foot facility on its Andover, Mass., campus, is now home to some of the industry's leading innovations, and a historic first, in manufacturing, officials say.   

The facility can handle radar programs of various sizes and power requirements, and it’s also ready for new development programs that have completely different and greater power specifications, thanks to a dedicated 1.5-megawatt substation -- enough to power nearly 1,500 homes.
 
One of the radar development facility’s two ranges, used to test radar arrays, is the largest across Raytheon and among the largest in the defense industry – measuring 50 feet wide, more than 80 feet long, and more than 50 feet high. It is covered by 72,000 pyramidal cones, which reflect sound and radar frequency energy.
 
Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) in Waltham, Mass., has upped its investment in advanced manufacturing innovations, including automated and autonomous technologies, to support complex radar testing and integration. The company’s new $72 million, 30,000 square-foot facility on its Andover, Mass., campus, is now home to some of the industry's leading innovations, and a historic first, in manufacturing, officials say.  

An anechoic chamber inside a near-field range can block out radio-frequency (RF) signals, enabling engineers to accurately measure radars in a quiet, signal-free environment. Since the anechoic chamber is essentially a metal box, it also keeps signals radiated from the radar inside. The RF absorber on the chamber walls, blue non-reflective foam, is there to absorb those signals so they do not bounce around the room and effect the measurement.
 
The new radar development facility in Massachusetts represents the next step in a Raytheon roadmap for the future. It follows the recent announcement that the company will build a new $100 million, 50,000-square-foot radar production facility at its manufacturing center in Forest, Mississippi.
 
Raytheon Company, headquartered in Waltham, Mass., with 2017 sales of $25 billion and 64,000 employees, specializes in defense, civil government, and cybersecurity solutions. With a history of innovation spanning 96 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration, C5I products and services, sensing, effects, and mission support for customers in more than 80 countries. 

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Courtney E. Howard is editorial director and content strategist at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group. Contact her by e-mail at courtney.howard@sae.org

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