Northrop Grumman is developing a new active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar for the Lockheed Martin F-35.

The new radar is designated AN/APG-85, says the company. Northrop also produces the fighter’s current radar, the APG-81.

US Marine Corps F-35C aboard Lincoln

A US Marine Corps F-35C aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in July 2022

“The AN/APG-85 is an advanced multifunction sensor that will be compatible with all variants of the F-35 aircraft and will be capable of defeating current and projected adversarial air and surface threats,” says Northrop.

“The development and integration of APG-85 will incorporate some of the latest technologies available and help ensure air superiority. This advanced sensor will provide unparalleled battlespace situational awareness that translates into platform lethality, effectiveness and survivability.”

While offering few details about the new radar set, such as its stage of development or when it may be deployed, Northrop claims that the existing APG-81 is the “latest and most capable AESA in the world”, providing “unparalleled battlespace situational awareness that translates into lethality, aircrew effectiveness and survivability”.

In addition to serving in the air-to-air and air-to-ground role, the APG-81 also provides electronic warfare capabilities such as electronic protection, electronic attack, and electronic support measures.

Northrop’s announcement follows the 6 January flight of a US Air Force F-35A in the Technology Refresh 3 (TR-3) configuration, which provides the additional computing power required for the type’s Block 4 modernisation programme.