GEM-T is first missile to use GaN
Raytheon's GEM-T missile is a mainstay of the US Army's Patriot Air and Missile Defense system, used against aircraft and tactical ballistic and cruise missiles. Now it has become the first missile packing a GaN transmitter, according to the company. One that never needs to be re-certified over the 45-year life of the missile.
"Our GaN is what's breathing new life into these transmitters," said Christine Walsh, Raytheon program manager for an international Patriot program. "GEM-T has been the beneficiary of all those years of Raytheon's work on GaN technology."
Those years - nearly two decades - have been spent pushing the limits of power and efficiency of GaN in Raytheon's Department of Defense-accredited Trusted Foundry, where high performance GaN amplifiers are made.
Transmitters connect the missile with the ground system, allowing it to control the weapon during flight. The GaN version in GEM-T uses solid state instead of the conventional traveling wave tube design, which requires a supply of parts and recertification to match the life of the missile. The new ones with GaN do not.
The new transmitter has the same form, fit and function as the old one. It's also tough, doesn't require additional cooling, and is ready to operate within seconds of powering up. That means that the GEM-T with the new GaN transmitter will continue to perform in the most demanding conditions.
According to Jason Rathbone, missile integrated product team lead for the Patriot product line, the tech is ready for the US Army, and is affordable. "Today," he said, "the legacy transmitters on the current GEM-T missiles need to be periodically rebuilt and recertified, so replacing the old one with the new solid-state transmitter is a smart move."
Raytheon is ramping up production of the GEM-T missile under a number of international contracts. The new transmitter, which was designed to allow future innovations, is well on its way to completing its qualification programs and will be tested during an upcoming flight test.
This transmitter technology might also see additional testing in other missiles. The Army has indicated interest in replacing its entire inventory with these types of long-lasting transmitters, which have reduced recurring costs per unit by 36 percent in the GEM-T program.