Northrop Grumman to pitch new AESA radar to export customers

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Northrop Grumman plans to offer a new radar based on the antenna of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's (JSF) APG-81 active electronically scanned array (AESA) combined with the receiver, exciter and processors (REP) of its Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) to potential foreign upgrade customers.

Northrop has already test flown the new radar on its British Aircraft Corporation BAC 111 test-bed aircraft, says Patrick Antkowiak, vice president of the company's advanced concepts and technologies division.

"We put it on there in literally weeks and flew it on May 9th," Antkowiak says.

 

 ©Northrop Grumman

The new system would have the power and performance of the APG-81, but at much lower cost.

The SABR REP cannot be retrofitted back into the F-35 because APG-81 does not have a "backend" as such, instead most of the processing for the radar is performed in the JSF's core processors, says Joe Ensor, Northrop's vice president for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and targeting systems.

Antkowiak says that though the new radar will be offered to both foreign and domestic customers, the radar is most likely to be offered for export to customers flying the Boeing F-15, F/A-18 or Lockheed F-16. That is because US F-15s and F/A-18s are already being upgraded with Raytheon-built AESA radar sets.

One of the advantages of using the APG-81 antenna is that it is already cleared for export, Ensor says. Therefore, it should not be difficult to get the new radar cleared for sale to foreign allies.