The US Navy has awarded Boeing a contract worth $61.8 million for a second low-rate initial production run of the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and E/A-18G aircraft.
The contract calls for production of 12 of the AESA APG-79 radar systems, including radars, radomes and shields. Production of the LRIP2 radar is scheduled to begin March 2004, with delivery of the first LRIP2 radar-equipped aircraft scheduled for December 2005.
The radars will be installed in selected two-seat ‘F’ model Super Hornets. The radar system is currently undergoing evaluation testing at Naval Air Systems Command, China Lake, California.
The AESA radar, built by Raytheon of El Segundo, California, is part of the F/A-18E/F Block II upgrade, which includes integration of advanced mission computers, a high-speed data network, and cockpit controls and displays. It works with several existing elements of the weapon system, such as the stores management system, the gun director, and AIM-120 and AIM-9 missiles.
The new radar replaces existing mechanically scanned antennas with a radar beam that can be steered at close to the speed of light. According to Boeing, this rapid beam scan feature improves performance, and because the array is solid state, mechanical breakdowns will be virtually eliminated.