USAF buys 16 AESA radars to upgrade F-15Cs

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Boeing has received the first contract to retrofit US Air Force active duty F-15Cs with the latest version of a Raytheon active electronically scanned array radar.

The deal, announced on 17 March, buys 16 APG-63(V)3 radars, a derivative of the APG-79 sensor aboard the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Raytheon will deliver eight radars each to the USAF and the Air National Guard.

Boeing expects to continue producing 16 radars a year for the USAF and the ANG, although the funding source remains fluid. Supplemental spending requests tied to the war effort are paying for the upgrades, meaning annual purchases may vary as priorities shift.

The new contract follows the ANG's order last September for six new radars, and a seventh for a USAF flight test aircraft. It also marks the active duty USAF's first purchase of AESA technology for F-15Cs since 18 Alaska-based aircraft were upgraded to the APG-63(V)2 standard. The unit has since been relocated to the strategic base at Okinawa, Japan.

f-15c

Boeing reports the deal's value at $130 million, including the 16 radars, spares, 49 identification friend-or-foe antennas and 20 added processors. Raytheon says the radar deal alone is worth $89.5 million, or an average of $5.6 million per copy.

The USAF F-15C fleet has recently returned to flight after a grounding order caused by the discovery of a potentially fatal manufacturing defect. The problem caused one F-15C to crash in November, and nine aircraft must be repaired or scrapped following inspections.

Boeing last October selected Raytheon to supply the APG-63(V)3 for 224 USAF F-15Es, rejecting a rival bid by Northrop Grumman based on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's APG-81 sensor.