Naval Air Warfare Center intends to award a sole source contract to Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems to upgrade infrared and radar systems aboard the US Navy’s Boeing F/A-18 and E/A-18G aircraft.

The USN is contracting Raytheon to upgrade the aircraft’s Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infrared (ATFLIR), and the AN/APG-65, AN/APG-73 and AN/APG-79 radars. The service announced its intention online on 9 May to grant the contract to Raytheon without a bidding competition because the company is the sole designer, developer and manufacturer of the systems.

Raytheon will be contracted to improve radar electronic countermeasures and sensor tactical capabilities.

AN/APG-79 radar

AN/APG-79 radar: Courtesy Raytheon

ATFLIR is a pod slung below F/A-18 and E/A-18G aircraft, which can locate and designate targets day or night by picking up their heat signature. It has a range of more than 40nm (74km) and can function at altitudes of more than 50,000ft.

The AN/APG-65 and AN/APG-73 radars are a family of mechanically scanned arrays developed in the 1970s and 1980s. The AN/APG-79 radar is an active electronically scanned array that Raytheon markets as one of its most advanced.

The infrared and radar upgrades come as the USN is buying more F/A-18 aircraft. Boeing was awarded a $41.3 million firm-fixed-price contract for long-lead materials to support the production of 24 F/A-18 aircraft for the USN, the Department of Defense announced on Wednesday. The Lot 43 work will be performed in St Louis, Missouri, and is expected to be completed in March 2022.