Northrop Grumman is including electronically scanned technology from the planned E-2C radar modernisation programme (RMP) as part of its airborne early warning (AEW) offer to Australia for the soon-to-be decided Project Wedgetail.

Australia is expected to finalise its choice of AEW systems from three competing systems within a month. Northrop Grumman is competing with the Advanced UHF Radar (AURA) in a dorsal-mounted rotodome fitted to the Lockheed Martin C-130J.

The mechanically scanned AURA includes a 360í electronically steered array capability, the core of which has been adapted from the next generation RMP planned for the Future Hawkeye, says Ken Tripp, Northrop Grumman AEW business development manager. AURA is designed for small target detection and tracking in high clutter overland environments.

RMP will replace the E-2C's mechanically scanned APS-145 radar, which originally formed the basis of the Northrop Grumman/ Lockheed Martin C-130J AEW proposal to Australia. The two other Wedgetail contenders, the Raytheon/Elta Phalcon-equipped Airbus A310 and Boeing/Northrop Grumman 737 MESA, are electronically scanned systems.

Northrop Grumman plans to demonstrate a RMP system in 2001-2 using a C-130. The system consists of a space/time adaptive processor, solid-state transmitter, high dynamic range receivers, 18-channel rotary coupler and ADS-18S antenna.

Future Hawkeye is intended as a follow-on package of improvements to the latest Hawkeye 2000 standard aircraft, 21 of which were recently ordered by the US Navy for delivery in 2001-6. Northrop Grumman sees a second requirement for an extra 15-20 new aircraft, which could incorporate elements of Future Hawkeye.

"Our goal is not to have a break in production," says Northrop Grumman AEW senior vice-president Lou Carrier. The company anticipates a US Navy contract by the end of 2003 to upgrade at least 45 Group 2 E-2Cs to Hawkeye 2000s.

Source: Flight International