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US clears United Kingdom to buy new ballistic missile defense radar

BMD radar at RAF Fylingdales
US Air Force file photo of the Upgrade Early Warning System solid state array at Royal Air Force base Fylingdales.

The US State Department has approved a possible sale of a ballistic missile defense radar (BMDR) and command and control battle management and communications (C2BMC) to the United Kingdom.

Should a definitive agreement be reached, the radar and related equipment would have an estimated cost of $700 million.

The supporting equipment and assistance would include the design and construction of a combined radar-equipment shelter; encryption devices, secure communication equipment, and other required COMSEC equipment to support radar operations.

Lockheed Martin, a company that has previously been involved with delivering the US Missile Defense Agency’s Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) in Alaska, would be the prime contractor on the potential contract.

“The proposed sale will improve UK’s ability to meet current and future ballistic missile threats to the UK and NATO by improving the effectiveness of NATO BMD systems. The United Kingdom will have no difficulty absorbing the BMD Radar into its armed forces,” the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement.

The UK already operates a single ballistic missile defense radar at RAF Fylingdales, which is integrated with similar systems at Beale Air Force Base in California and Thule Air Force Base in Greenland, forming the Upgrade Early Warning System (UEWS). Data collected at the site is shared between the United States and the United Kingdom in an agreement dating back to 1960.

The US Defense Department approval for the sale of a new BMD radar to the UK comes after the country’s defense ministry revealed in its newest defense equipment plan that the procurement of a new system would be delayed by three years, to 2029. Little other information has been given on the undertaking that has been dubbed Project Lewis.

What is known is that the UK defense ministry began probing industry on radar technology for a new BMD capability with a request for information call from 2017.