The US Air Force has awarded a notionally $468 million contract to Northrop Grumman to launch low-rate initial production (LRIP) of the B-2 radar modernization programme (RMP).

The contract award means the five-year-old effort to upgrade the B-2’s radar antenna to an active electronically scanned array in a new frequency band can shift from development into early production.

The award also indicates that Northrop’s redesign of the array, which required an extra year to complete, meets the USAF’s standards. The USAF has not disclosed why the redesign was necessary.

Northrop officials were unavailable to comment immediately about the USAF announcement.

b2 mxcheck 
 US Air Force photo

The USAF is required to upgrade the B-2 antenna because the radar’s current frequency band has been redesignated for civilian use. Although the AESA antenna is an upgrade, the radar's capability will remain unchanged unless the radar processor is also updated.

Northrop’s partners for the RMP award include Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, Lockheed Martin Systems Integration and BAE Systems.