Raytheon Intelligence & Space has delivered an APG-79(V)4 AESA radar prototype for the US Marine Corps’ F/A-18 Hornet aircraft for early flight testing and completion of weapon systems integration.
The company will be delivering the radar for an unspecified number of Hornet aircraft that are to remain in USMC service for the next decade.
The APG-79(V)4 is a scaled version of the APG-79 AESA radar that helps pilots detect and track enemy aircraft from farther distances and with more accuracy than the legacy APG-73 system.
The radar’s improved targeting capabilities provide an edge in crucial operations including air-to-air, maritime strike and air-to-surface missions. Powered by gallium nitride (GaN), the APG-79(V)4 is the first domestic implementation of a GaN-based fire control radar, with GaN Transmit/Receive Modules embedded directly into the array.
The smaller radar shares much of the same parts and technology as the AN/APG-79 radar used in the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft.
“Aircrews must have access to new tools to support readiness,” said Eric Ditmars, vice president of Secure Sensor Solutions for RI&S. “The upgrade to AESA radar offers increased reliability and sustainability for the customer, which equates to lower maintenance and repair costs, and increased aircraft availability.”
The first 25 production AESA radars will be delivered starting in December 2021 as part of the $83.6 million production contract awarded in 2020.
The first delivery of the new AESA radar is part of a US Marine Corps plan to select the best airframes in the fleet that would be maintained and operated until around 2030. The service is also planning the acquisition of AN/ALQ-214(v)5 countermeasure systems and AN/ALR-67 digital radar warning receivers to help the remaining fighters remain a relevant platform on the battlefield of tomorrow.
Earlier this year, the USMC completed the final flight of an F/A-18 Hornet from an aircraft carrier. The February flight of a Hornet assigned Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 323 off the flight deck of the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) marked well over 30 years of service of the Hornet in the carrier-launched role.