PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) F/A-18 Program awarded a contract worth $61.8 million Feb. 5 for the second low-rate initial production (LRIP2) of the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
The AESA radar system is integrated in the F/A-18 by prime contractor, The Boeing Company, of St Louis, Mo., and built under a subcontract by Raytheon Corporation of El Segundo, Calif. The LRIP2 contract calls for production of 12 AESA AN/APG-79 radar systems.
"The AN/APG-79 AESA Radar represents a quantum leap in fleet warfighting capability," said F/A-18 Program Manager Capt. B.D. Gaddis. "AESA will help pave the way forward for the F/A-18 Super Hornet's readiness for future Network Centric Operations."
The AESA contract award follows earlier approval granted by Assistant Secretary of the Navy John Young (RD&A), to enter into Milestone C. Deliveries from this LRIP 2 contract are due in the Fall of 2005.
The AESA radar is part of the F/A-18E/F Block II upgrade, which includes integration of advanced mission computers, high speed data network, cockpit controls and displays, environmental control system upgrade and forward fuselage affordability improvements. AESA radar 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, to enhance the lethality, survivability and affordability of the F/A-18E/F. The new radar replaces existing mechanically scanned antennas with a radar beam that can be steered at close to the speed of light. This rapid beam scan feature dramatically improves performance, and because the array is solid state, mechanical breakdowns will be virtually eliminated.
The AESA team embarked on the next exciting phase of flight test as it took to the skies for the first time at NAVAIR China Lake during the summer of 2003. The program expects to begin operational evaluation of the AESA radar system in early 2006, with initial operational capability later that year.
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