AN/APG-63 Radar System
The AN/APG-63 is a pulse doppler, X-band, multi-mode radar used in the F-15A/B/C/D aircraft. Hughes Aircraft Company estimated in 1983 that, in conjunction with the advanced long-range AN/APG-63 radar, the Strike Eagle equipped with synthetic aperture radar and other modifications for navigation, target acquisition, and weapon delivery could operate about 95 percent of the time in a central European winter. Radar was produced in several variants. The rhe AN/APG-63 MSIP Multi-Stage Improvement Programme upgrade commenced in 1990s. In Japan this introduced the upgraded AN/APG-63U.
As of 2011 about 180 F-15Cs had the (V)1 and 18 had the earlier (V)2 AESA.
The AN/APG-63 radar is a highly flexible, all-weather multimode radar. The APG-63 radar combines long range acquisition and attack capabilities with automatic features to provide the instant information and computations needed during air-to-air and air-to-surface combat. The APG-63 has been operational since 1973. In 1979, it was the first airborne radar to incorporate a software programmable signal processor. The PSP allows the system to quickly respond to new tactics or accommodate improved modes and weapons through software reprogramming rather than by extensive hardware retrofit. The APG-63 is no longer in production but remains in service. Almost 1,000 APG-63s had been delivered when production ended in 1986. About 700 are still operational in F-15As, Bs, and early model Cs and Ds operated by the U.S. Air Force and the air forces of Israel, Japan, and Saudi Arabia.
The APG-63 radar has an average mean time between failure less than 15 hours. APG-63 LRUs have become increasingly difficult to support both in the field and at the depot. First, individual parts have become increasingly unavailable from any source; incorporating newer technology parts often entails module redesign and fails to address the root cause. Second, continuing reliability deterioration impacts both sustainment, particularly during deployment, as well as ACC's ability to implement two-level maintenance. In addition, the APG-63 radar has virtually no remaining processing and memory capacity to accommodate software upgrades to counter evolving threats.
Raytheon's AN/APG-63(V) is the fire control radar for the F-15A/B/C/D Eagle fighter. The AN/APG-63(V)1 radar is a reliability/maintainability upgrade including state-of-the-art hardware with significant growth opportunities to address user requirements. A modified version, the AN/APG-70, superseded the APG-63 on the F-15E Strike Eagle, but was then itself to be replaced with the APG-63(V)1 as part of a comprehensive APG-63 upgrade. The (V)1 includes many improvements, but the primary benefit is the increased reliability that will result from replacing the difficultto- maintain 20-year-old circuitry in the original APG-63. The APG-63(V)1 LRIP contract was awarded in August 1997, with full-rate production beginning in 2002.
As part of a radar retrofit program for the U.S. Air Force, the APG-63(V)1 was produced to replace outmoded APG-63 radars installed in F-15 C/D aircraft models. Raytheon supplies radar and spare systems, data requirements, program management, and test equipment to support this retrofit program. Raytheon received five production orders to deliver 161 APG-63(V)1 radar systems plus spares to the US Air Force. Raytheon is also on contract to deliver 40 radar systems and spares to Korea. Production deliveries were scheduled through November 2005 at a maximum rate of five systems per month. In 2004 the Air Force changed its plans to upgrade 400 F-15s with the APG-63(V)1, deciding instead to install the APG-63(V)3 AESA antenna upgrade on the entire 224-aircraft F-15E fleet.
As part of a radar retrofit program for the US Air Force, the APG-63(V)1 is being produced to replace outmoded APG-63 radars installed in F-15 C/D aircraft models, providing F-15s with world-leading radar capabilities. The (v)1 is an upgrade to the out-of-production Raytheon APG-63 and APG-70 radars. The upgrade includes a new transmitter, receiver, data processor, low-voltage power supply and signal data converter. It provides a 10-fold increase in radar reliability while increasing system capacity for future growth. The radar incorporates components designed for improved reliability and lower failure rates and enhanced diagnostics for improved fault detection and fault isolation. Along with other design features, these should improve radar reliability to 120 hours MTBM, an order of magnitude better than the existing APG-63. Boeing, which builds the F-15 in St. Louis, is responsible for installing the (v)1 components, which are primarily supplied by Raytheon. Raytheon is supplying radar and spare systems, data requirements, program management, and test equipment to support this retrofit program. Boeing has integrated virtually all subsystems on the F-15 since the aircraft entered production.
In March 2001 the Air Force's 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia became the first unit to receive a production (v)1 system. At least 170 U.S. Air Force F-15s are expected to receive the (v)1 upgrade. Production deliveries are scheduled from October 2000 through June 2005 at a rate of two to three systems per month. It was expected that over 160 APG-63(V)1 radar systems will have been delivered to the US Air Force by mid-2005. Other nations that now operate F-15s are also interested in upgrading to this system.
Raytheon designed and built the world’s first operational AESA fighter radar — the APG-63(V)2 for the F-15C, first fielded in 2000. The AN/APG-63(V)2 is a major radar upgrade for the U.S. Air Force F-15C aircraft. Retaining controls and displays nearly identical to those of its predecessor, the AN/APG-63(V)1, the new system adds an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar to proven AN/APG-63(V)1 radar components. Addition of AESA technology substantially increases pilot situational awareness, while enhancing reliability and maintainability.
The evolution of Raytheon's F-15 radar family reflects a spiral development process, which maximizes the use of existing products while incorporating new features and technologies as needed. A prime example: Integrating active electronically scanned array (AESA) technology into the APG-63(V)1 hardware to produce the world's first operational AESA fighter radar-the APG-63(V)2 for the F-15C. The V2 provides 3x reliability increase over V1 with mechanically scanned array (MSA). It leverages V1 back-end to provide cruise missile defense capability.
In December 2000 Boeing Company delivered to the US Air Force the final three of 18 F-15C aircraft it refitted with Raytheon's APG-63(v)2 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, providing the Air Force the world's first operational fighter jets with the advanced-technology radar system. The AESA radar has an exceptionally agile beam, and provides nearly instantaneous track updates throughout the field of vision. Other benefits of the radar include enhanced multi-target tracking capability and elimination of the need for a hydraulic system. Addition of AESA technology substantially increases pilot situational awareness, while enhancing reliability and maintainability. The AESA radar allows the pilot to detect, track and destroy multiple enemy aircraft at significantly longer ranges. The AN/APG-63(V)2 is compatible with current F-15C weapon loads, features upgraded identification-friend-or-foe and environmental control systems, and enables pilots to take full advantage of AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Missile capabilities. It can simultaneously guide multiple missiles to several targets widely spaced in azimuth, elevation, or range.
The AN/APG-63(V)2 is a major radar upgrade for the US Air Force F-15C aircraft. Retaining controls and displays nearly identical to those of its predecessor, the AN/APG-63(V)1, the new system adds an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar to proven AN/APG-63(V)1 radar components. In an AESA system, the traditional mechanically scanning radar dish is replaced by a stationary panel covered with an array of hundreds of small transmitter-receiver modules. Unlike a radar dish, these modules have more combined power and can perform different detection, tracking, communication and jamming functions in multiple directions simultaneously. An AESA offers greater precision to detect, track and eliminate multiple threats more quickly and effectively than traditional radar. Because the AESA eliminates the hydraulic and electrical systems associated with mechanically operated radars, its reliability and maintainability are dramatically improved. The AN/APG-63(V)2 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar combines increased pilot situational awareness with improved reliability and maintainability. The AN/APG-63(V)2 is a major radar upgrade for the U.S. Air Force F-15C aircraft. Retaining controls and displays nearly identical to those of its predecessor, the AN/APG-63(V)1, the new system adds an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar to proven AN/APG-63(V)1 radar components. Addition of AESA technology substantially increases pilot situational awareness, while enhancing reliability and maintainability.
The AESA radar has an exceptionally agile beam, and provides nearly instantaneous track updates throughout the field of vision. Other benefits of the radar include enhanced multi-target tracking capability and elimination of the need for a hydraulic system. The AN/APG-63(V)2 is compatible with current F-15C weapon loads, features upgraded identification-friend-or-foe and environmental control systems, and enables pilots to take full advantage of AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Missile capabilities. It can simultaneously guide multiple missiles to several targets widely spaced in azimuth, elevation, or range.
The Raytheon APG-63(V)3 AESA radar combines the operationally-proven APG-63(V)2 AESA software and the revolutionary hardware advances of the F/A 18E/F Super Hornet's APG-79 AESA radar to create a high performance system that is reliable and affordable. The APG-63 V3 radar upgrade replaces the mechanically-scanned antenna (MSA) on F-15C/D aircraft with an active electronically-scanned array (AESA) antenna that provides improved reliability and performance. The RSAF's F-15SGs are equipped with the AN/APG-63(V)3 AESA radar and have smaller T/R modules. Boeing is under contract to upgrade ANG F-15C aircraft with the APG-63(V)3 AESA, and follow-on contracts are in process.
The baseline for the V3 program is the APG-63 V1 configured aircraft. The modification requires replacement of the antenna, power supply and upgrading the environmental control system. Other avionics which support radar functionality may also be upgraded. The APG-63(V)3 uses APG-63(V)1 "backend" hardware which by 2011 was operational on 176 F-15C/Ds. It uses software from the APG-63(V)2, an electronically-scanned array radar which is also already operational on the F-15C. The primary new technology in the APG-63(V)3 is the AESA antenna, which is based on technology developed for the APG-79 radar on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
This is the most capable radar in a fighter aircraft in the world. The system is as advanced as that of the Air Force's most advanced fighter -- the F-22 Raptor. The AESA is all-electronic based with no moving parts on the radar system itself, allowing everything to be electronically steered. The system allows the F-15 to engage targets better and with greater reliability. The AN/APG-63(V)3 AESA radar provides powerful, adaptable radar technology, proven performance, and tactical flexibility that F-15 pilots can rely on. The (V)3 is essentially an updated APG-79 front-end (antenna and power supply) and APG-63(V)1 hardware back-end. For the F-15E, the antenna size was increased to 0.9 m (36 in.) diam, and improved tile T/R modules with a greater mean time between overhaul are used.
The newest member of Raytheon's F-15 radar family, it continues a tradition of innovative, highly reliable technology. Superior situational awareness is a key benefit of this all-weather, multimode radar. Other benefits include multi-role capability, long-term support, and easy future growth options. Raytheon's F-15 radar growth plan provides a smooth transition from one product upgrade to another. The APG-63(V)1 seamlessly integrates the APG-63(V)3's AESA components with minimal downtime. The APG-63(V)3 provides for similarly easy future transition.
The APG-63(V)3 increases pilot effectiveness with high-powered capabilities such as long-range detection and tracking, and enhanced situational awareness through multi-target search and track. Simultaneous multi-weapon support - a major force multiplier for pilots -- is a primary feature. In addition, the radar allows long-range mapping with superior surface detection and target breakout. In air-to-air and air-to-surface operations, the APG-63(V)3 provides versatile multimission performance. Its multirole and self-protection capabilities -- and greater tactical flexibility -- increase pilot and aircrew effectiveness and safety.
This advanced radar delivers optimal performance even in heavy clutter environments such as mountains, coastlines, and cities. It also provides interoperability with all U.S. aircraft, weapons, and systems. The APG-63(V)3 provides the highest reliability in Raytheon's F-15 radar family. Ruggedly designed for years of service, it features extensive built-in test, enabling two-level maintenance. Other benefits include low lifetime maintenance costs, long-term availability, and outstanding support.
The APG-63(V)3's long-range multi-target search and track capability provides superior situational awareness. Key features include: Look-down, look-up, all-target aspect; Multiple simultaneous tracking and targeting capabilities; Selectable search volumes In addition, the radar maintains situational awareness during weapons employment. Its weapons capabilities include: Current F-15 weapons load support Multiple auto acquisition modes for short-range dogfight situations; Large off-boresight weapon support for AIM-9 and guns.
For air-to-surface operations, the APG-63(V)3 offers a growth path to all weather, precision strike capabilities, including: Long-range imaging for fixed target detection; High-resolution imaging for target recognition and weapon support; Ground-moving target detection and track; Long-range sea-surface target detection and track.
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