The U.S. strategic tilt toward the Asia Pacific region plays to Raytheon Co.’s strength in active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, a key technology being used and sought by countries in the region to enhance the capabilities of their legacy fourth-generation fighters.
South Korea is expected to issue a request for proposals for an F-16 radar retrofit this week. It could be the first country to decide between the Northrop Grumman Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) and the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR).
Northrop Grumman and Raytheon are going head-to-head with active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar programs to update F-16 fighters and other fighters around the world. Northrop Grumman announced yesterday that it now has U.S. State Department licenses to talk to a number of export customers at DSP-5 level, a status that Raytheon announced for its proposals in November.
Raytheon’s RACR low-cost AESA upgrade radar for tactical aircraft is now ready for installation in the F-16 Fighting Falcon and awaiting its first order. The sensor draws on the technology used in Raytheon’s latest fighter radars, the APG-63 AESA versions in the F-15 Eagle and APG-79 in newer F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.
Boeing is making further improvements to the F/A-18E/F, and evaluating a more powerful version of the Super Hornet’s GE F414 powerplants. A new core and a new fan that could deliver 20 percent more thrust are under investigation by Boeing and General Electric. Boeing F/A-18 program manager Bob Gower said that no change to the aircraft’s inlets would be required to increase mass flow. The core has already run in a test cell.
Raytheon is launching here at Farnborough the latest member of its growing family of AESA (active electronically scanned antenna) radars. Known as the Raytheon advanced combat radar (RACR, “racer”), the new sensor is aimed at both the retrofit market, for aircraft such as the F-16, F/A-18 and others, or for installation in new-build fighters.
Raytheon has won a competition to provide new radars for the U.S. Air Force’s entire fleet of Boeing F-15E Strike Eagles, maintaining its position as sole provider of radars for the Eagle family.
Boeing test pilot Ricardo Traven is flying his usual impressive routine here in the Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet. The price of this significantly upgraded warplane to the U.S. Navy has been significantly reduced in recent years, so Boeing is bullish about international prospects. Australia recently became the first export customer for the Super, and Boeing is eyeing India, Japan, Greece and Switzerland, among others.
The advent of the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar has not only dramatically improved the traditional capabilities of the radar, but has also opened the door to a new world of capabilities.