Romania is poised to become the first country to field the newest version of the Patriot air and missile defense system, made by Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a business of Raytheon Technologies. The company received the go-ahead in early 2021 after the U.S. Army held a critical design review of significant updates to the air and missile defense system. Romania already has one Patriot fire unit in place. Raytheon Missiles & Defense delivered it in record time last September, responding to the NATO member’s concerns about security in the Black Sea region. It is among 17 Patriot partner nations whose operational scenarios and data inform updates.
The company uses that feedback to ensure the system’s continued reliability, maintainability and capability to outpace the full spectrum of threats. Now, in addition to receiving the latest system, Romania will also take advantage of the configuration’s flexible architecture to upgrade its current unit in alignment with the new ones. And, while it will be the first to field the enhanced configurations, Romania is also contributing to the continuous evolution of Patriots around the world: The other countries that use Patriot will benefit, too, from the hardware and software changes to the unit’s technical baseline.
Romania has reached another milestone in its Patriot program: successful completion earlier this year of what’s called a Post-Deployment Build for the fire unit’s latest, or 8.1, iteration. This testing and evaluation step keeps the NATO member on track for delivery of additional systems in 2022 along with updates to its current unit. The development is significant, both for Romania and for the 16 other nations that have chosen Patriot for their air and missile defense needs. They, too, will ultimately benefit from the upgrades to the air and missile defense system made by Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a business of Raytheon Technologies.
A Post-Deployment Build, as it’s called, refers to the testing and evaluation of incremental hardware and software updates made to the Patriot system since its inception. In this case, the numbers 8.1 refer to deployment of the first incremental enhancements to the eighth major upgrade since Patriot was first fielded. These upgrades are necessary because threats evolve and so does the technology developed to counter them. And it’s important to continually upgrade a system like Patriot while preserving the core functionality that’s one of the main reasons why you would acquire Patriot in the first place.
The hardware enhancements include changes in the engagement control station, the information control center, in the communication relay group and also the radar set. Notably, they’ll be fielding what’s called the digital exciter. This replaces a core subsystem within the Patriot radar, changing its configuration into a brand-new digital product that leverages lessons learned from multiple different systems—not just our years and years of Patriot experience, but also modern circuit card manufacturing techniques and design principles that make a system far more reliable, far easier to maintain and provides room to grow far more effectively than the analog version does.
The major change is to the Warfighter Machine Interface (WMI). This is the user command-and-control interface for the weapon system operator. Operators see pixelated shapes and a complex directory for searching functions and status pages. It’s a more modern approach that’s intuitive for anyone who has any level of exposure to computing or digital equipment to video games or any sort of electronic media. The functionality is more obvious, which is crucial for an operator’s proficiency in the heat of the moment on the battlefield. They have functionality at their fingertips when they operate Patriot, which has the best deployable capability that’s ready now.