Japanese manufacturer to make units as part of fighter modification, while Raytheon touts AESA sensor
Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric (Melco) has received its first batch of parts from Raytheon to begin licence- production of the APG-63(V)1 radar as part of an upgrade to the Japanese air force’s F-15J fighters.
Melco has been contracted to manufacture several APG-63(V)1 units and Raytheon expects the programme will ultimately involve installing the new radar on 80 F-15Js.
Raytheon’s director of new business for F-15 radar programmes Arnie Victor says Melco recently took delivery of special test equipment needed for first article qualification tests, but that it will take another two years for the new radar to enter service.
“There’s a whole licence-production training curve that goes with that,” Victor says.
Japan may later upgrade the F-15J’s APG-63 to the (V)3 active electronically scanned array (AESA) variant or introduce the enhanced standard with a new batch of fighters. Manufacturers expect Tokyo to select a new fighter in 2007 or 2008 and acquire a first batch of aircraft in 2009.
Boeing’s F-15E and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet are the early favourites for the 40-60 aircraft requirement, since Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are unlikely to meet Japan’s delivery and co-production requirements.
Raytheon manufactures AESA radars for both the F-15 and F/A-18E/F and Victor says: “In fighter competitions AESA is becoming a discriminator in many countries.”
Raytheon plans to begin V(3) deliveries to Boeing for Singapore’s 12 F-15SGs in late 2008 and for six US Air National Guard F-15C/Ds in early 2009, with the latter service expected to eventually acquire 48 units over eight years. Victor says the US Air Force has also shown interest in the V(3), but that funding has not been secured to acquire the system.
The USAF will complete installing the APG-63(V)1 on a final batch of F-15Cs in April. The mechanically scanned (V)1 can be relatively easily upgraded to the V(3) standard because its back-end equipment is retained.
Victor says parts of the V(1) have previously been manufactured overseas, but that Japan is the first country to produce the entire radar.
BRENDAN SOBIE / SINGAPORE