Eighteen month demonstration aimed at future upgrade of SHARP for Boeing F/A-18E/F

A Raytheon-led team has been selected by the US Navy to demonstrate a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) with precision targeting capabilities on the Grumman F-14 Tomcat fighter.


The 18-month demonstration is aimed at a future upgrade of the Raytheon Shared Reconnaissance Pod (SHARP) planned for the Boeing F/A-18E/F.

The USN has received $9 million to conduct the F-14 demonstration and undertake an engineering analysis of the integration of a SAR into the electro-optical/infrared SHARP pod. It is also responsible for system integration and engineering, and is providing the targeting technology.

Using the F-14 for SAR trials will reduce risk and prove the capability ahead of the F/A-18E/F funding allocation. The USN might deploy the system on operational F-14s in the interim to supplement SHARP-equipped F/A-18E/Fs.

As prime contractor, Raytheon Electronic Systems received $5.8 million to demonstrate a SAR in a dedicated F-14 pod. Lockheed Martin Management & Data Systems is providing the Modular SAR - also known as Falcon SAR - a Ku-band radar already demonstrated on a Lockheed Martin F-16.

The company says: "It has the flexibility and the capability to be modified for the increased range and all-weather capabilities of X-band" and is designed to include moving target indication and a real-time datalink. Raytheon Technical Systems is manufacturing the SHARP pod structure.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control had bid the Tactical All-Weather Collection and Long Range (TACL)SAR, based on Elta's EL/M-2060P, a system operational on the F-16. Demonstrations were conducted on the F-14 and F-16 last year. Lockheed Martin would have provided the precision targeting capabilities.

The company has been awarded a 12-month, $672,000 contract to study how TACL might be incorporated in the SHARP. Although awarded a "consolation prize", an industry official says: "The path to a production system is through the SAR flight demonstration."

Source: Flight International