AN/APG-73 Radar System
The revolutionary AN/APG-79 AESA radar provides F/A-18E/F aircrews with powerful new capabilities. The AN/APG-79 AESA radar system represents a significant advance in radar technology. Entirely new from front-end array to back-end processor and operational software, the system substantially increases the power of the U.S. Navy's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, making it more lethal and less vulnerable than ever before. Raytheon's AN/APG-79 radar with its AESA antenna has been developed for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, for new builds, and as a retrofit replacement for the mechanically scanned AN/APG-73. With more power than the APG-73, the APG-79 will have two or three times the air-toair detection range and will allow tracking of significantly more targets. It will also have a much better ability to identify targets and break out those that are closely spaced.
With its active electronic beam scanning - which allows the radar beam to be steered at nearly the speed of light - the APG-79 optimizes situational awareness and provides superior air-to-air and air-to-ground capability. The agile beam enables the radar's air-to-air and air-to-ground modes to interleave in near-real time, so that pilot and crew can use both modes simultaneously, an unprecedented technological leap. With the APG-79's multimode capability, the F/A-18F's pilot can, for example, perform an air-toair mission while the back-seater performs an air-to-ground mission. SAR imaging and air-to-air search and track can continue simultaneously, since there is no need for physically steering the antenna to either ground or air vectors.
The APG-79 demonstrates reliability, image resolution, and targeting and tracking range significantly greater than that of the current F/A-18 radar. With its open systems architecture and compact, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) parts, it delivers dramatically increased capability in a smaller, lighter package. The array is composed of numerous solid-state transmit and receive modules to virtually eliminate mechanical breakdown. Other system components include an advanced receiver/exciter, ruggedized COTS processor, and power supplies.
As the world's most advanced tactical radar, the AN/APG-79 makes fighter aircraft more lethal and less vulnerable than ever before. Featuring active electronic beam steering - which allows the radar beam to be repositioned nearly instantaneously - the APG-79 enables image resolution, and targeting and tracking ranges, significantly greater than the radar it replaces. With these enhanced capabilities, aircrews can now detect and identify targets beyond the reach of most missiles. The APG-79's long standoff range also allows more time for persistent target observation, information sharing, and assessment by commanders before critical decisions are made. The result: greatly increased aircraft and aircrew effectiveness and survivability.
An advanced four-channel receiver/exciter gives the APG-79 wide bandwidth capability and the ability to generate a broad spectrum of waveforms for air-to-air, air-to-ground and electronic warfare missions. The APG-79 radar can track significantly more targets than current radar systems and can operate in multiple air-to-air and air-to-ground modes simultaneously. In response to mission requirements, its built-in resource manager automatically schedules tasks to optimize radar functions and minimize aircrew workload.
With its open systems architecture, incorporating ruggedized commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components and weapon replaceable assemblies (WRAs), the APG-79 demonstrates a significant increase in reliability over its predecessors. It also offers greater affordability over the life of the radar. The ultrathin, light antenna (the array weighs only 95 pounds) has an extremely low failure rate, with no maintenance predicted for 10 to 20 years. In addition, the modular design of the WRAs makes hardware/software module repairs faster, easier, and less expensive. The design permits built-in testing, software isolation, and easy upgrades, resulting in significantly reduced total ownership costs.
The APG-79's flexibility and versatility make it an important addition to the modern military's networked battlespace. Built with secure, interoperable technology, this leading edge radar enhances the sharing of information with manned, unmanned, and ground-based systems for close cooperation on the battlefield. It offers the F/A-18E/F the capability to perform as an essential node in the air and ground global information network.
Since the contract award in 2000, the APG-79 program has met all its milestones on time and the system has shown exceptional performance in flight tests. Currently completing its operational test phase, the program's next milestone was operational evaluation starting in 2006 with the APG-79 radar entering service towards the end of 2006. After successfully completing operational evaluation and initial operational capability in 2006, Raytheon's AN/APG-79 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar is now operational with an active duty U.S. Navy squadron. The U.S. Navy plans to buy over 400 APG-79 systems. Potential foreign sales span seven countries now using the F/A-18 aircraft.
The F/A-18 E/F program has developed and integrated the AN/APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) RADAR system for installation in Lot 26 and subsequent Block II, Super Hornet aircraft. The integration of the AN/APG-79 AESA RADAR system into the F/A-18 E/F greatly improves the weapon system's threat detection range, high resolution Synthetic Aperture RADAR (SAR) ground mapping capability, survivability and reliability. Forward fit of the AN/APG-79 AESA RADAR system began with limited quantities in Lot 27 through Lot 29 F/A-18 E/F aircraft. All Lot 30 and subsequent F/A-18 E/F and EA-18G aircraft are forward fit with the AN/APG-79 AESA RADAR. This OSIP reflects the retrofit of Lot 26 through Lot 29 F/A-18 E/F aircraft. The procurement of retrofit kits began in FY08 with retrofit kit installation beginning in FY2010. Installation of kits will be accomplished by a Fleet Support Team traveling to two locations (NAS Oceana and NAS Lemoore) and executing the retrofit or aircraft by squadron.
In addition to the APG-79, Raytheon supplies the F/A-18 E/F aircraft with several other systems. Among these are the current APG-73 radar, ATFLIR forward-looking infrared targeting pod, AN/ALE-50 towed decoy and a variety of missiles and bombs, including laser-guided weapons such as the Paveway and JSOW.
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