Electronic Weapons: August 30, 2003


In a rare bit of successful program development, Raytheon developed and tested the APG-79 radar on time and on budget. The APG-79 is a new kind of airborne radar (for the F-18 by 2005, other aircraft later) that uses a Multi-Function Array (many small electronic radar transmitters instead of a radar dish that has to be mechanically rotated). The Multi-Function Array is more reliable, with few moving parts, and more capable (longer range, greater accuracy and flexibility). For example, the APG-79 can do ground mapping (when pointed at the ground, it shows the outline of coasts, rivers and larger geographic features). The APG-79 is expensive, costing about $2.5 million per unit. However, that is not much more expensive than current aircraft radars, and delivers a lot more performance. The AGP-77 had one major advantage in its development, it was preceded by the first airborne Multi-Function Array radar was the AGP-77, which will enter service in the F-22 next year, and in the F-35 a few years later. The AGP-80 is being developed for the F-16 and companies in Japan, France, Sweden and Russia are also working on similar systems. 


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