Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC

Work on a modular, scalable airborne ground surveillance radar will be shared equally by Northrop Grumman and Raytheon under a restructured Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Programme (MP-RTIP) contract.

As prime contractor, Northrop Grumman will receive $303 million for the three-year first phase of the revised programme. Raytheon's share will be $106 million, but development of the active electronically scanned array radar will be shared 50:50 between the two.

RTIP was to be an upgrade to the USAF's Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System. The revised MP-RTIP will develop common, modular hardware and software that will be scalable to fit three applications: the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle; a yet-to-be-selected Wide Area Surveillance platform; and the NATO Transatlantic Advanced Radar (NATAR), the US offering for the alliance's Airborne Ground Surveillance requirement.

A joint Northrop Grumman/ Raytheon team will design the radar in the first phase. In the four-year second phase, the team will build and test three radars, with 3.05m, 5.5m and 7.3m (10ft, 18ft and 24ft) active-array antennas, respectively, for the Global Hawk, NATAR and Wide Area Surveillance platforms.

Plans call for the 3.05m and 7.3m radars to be flight tested on a JSTARS aircraft acting as a universal testbed for the MP-RTIP. A 5.5m radar will be ground tested, but the 7.3m antenna could be modified to simulate the NATAR sensor for flight testing, says Northrop Grumman programme manager Chris Hernandez.

Integration of the MP-RTIP into specific platforms will be performed under separate development programmes. Northrop Grumman will lead platform integration, and Raytheon radar integration, for the Global Hawk, with entry into service expected in 2009.

USAF is conducting an analysis of alternatives for the manned Wide Area Surveillance platform, and a decision is expected in 2003. If the current Boeing 707-based JSTARS is selected as a platform, Northrop Grumman will lead the integration. But if a new aircraft is selected, the USAF is expected to compete the integration.

As the rival companies will combine their active-array radar experience, the contract has involved protracted negotiations. "This is not a simple business arrangement," says Wally Hoff, general manager of the aerospace systems division of Northrop Grumman's Electronic Sensors and Systems Sector. "Now we have a lot of confidence we will work together well." Bob Iversen, general manager of Raytheon's Surveil-lance and Reconnaissance Systems business unit, says the two firms "have built a better relationship" as a result of the renegotiation.

Source: Flight International