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Northrop Grumman Flight Tests Radar Antenna For B-2 Stealth Bomber

The B-2 Spirit Stealth bomber has also undergone engine tests (pictured).
by Staff Writers
Palmdale CA (SPX) Jun 15, 2006
Northrop Grumman, working closely with Raytheon, has begun flight testing a new radar antenna on the B-2 stealth bomber that, combined with other upgrades, will enhance the aircraft's ability to respond to emerging worldwide threats.

Testing of the active, electronically scanned array (AESA) antenna on the B-2 represents a milestone for this radar modernization program because it allows engineers to determine, for the first time, how the radar operates under actual flight conditions.

Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the B-2, which remains the only long-range, large-payload aircraft that can penetrate deep into protected airspace. Combined with superior airspace control to be provided by the F-22 Raptor and global mobility provided by tanker aircraft, the B-2 will ensure an effective U.S. response to threats anywhere in the world.

"The radar modernization program is one improvement the Air Force and Northrop Grumman are working on to enhance the B-2's capabilities," said Dave Mazur, vice president of Long Range Strike and B-2 program manager for Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector.

"The B-2's combination of long range, large payload and survivability makes it a unique strike asset, and the upgrades will ensure the aircraft remains just as effective in the future."

Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, the radar system provider, recently delivered two AESA antennas to Northrop Grumman for the flight test program. Following integration tests, the antennas were installed on a B-2 aircraft.

"Raytheon's B-2 AESA radar system is performing well so far during the flight test phase," said Erv Grau, vice president for the Air Combat Avionics Group of Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems.

"Integrating our advanced technology onto the platform is critical to ensure the B-2 is not only equipped to deal effectively with a variety of future threats but also has the capability to act as a critical node on the network as the battlespace continues to evolve."

The B-2 radar work is part of a 382 million dollar system development and demonstration contract awarded by the Air Force in 2004. During this phase, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon are developing and testing the radar and will install additional systems on operational B-2 aircraft of the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. This phase will be followed by production to field the new radar and install the antenna into the B-2 fleet.

Northrop Grumman's B-2 program is based in Palmdale, Calif., and Raytheon's work is based in El Segundo, Calif. In addition to Raytheon, Northrop Grumman's radar modernization subcontractors include Lockheed Martin Corporation in Owego, N.Y., for defensive management system modifications, and BAE Systems Information and Electronic Systems Integration in Greenlawn, N.Y., for radar transponder modifications.

In addition to radar modernization, B-2 upgrade programs include the following:

- A "smart bomb rack assembly" that allows the B-2 to deliver 80 independently targeted, 500-lb. smart weapons, five times more than it could deliver previously

- Application of a specially formulated surface coating that has significantly improved B-2 maintainability at the 509th Bomb Wing

- Installation of a new communications link that will improve B-2 pilots' ability to share critical targeting and threat information and maintain real-time awareness of the battlespace

- Integration of a new communication system to improve the B-2's strategic communications with current and future communications architectures. It will ensure the B-2 is seamlessly integrated into the military's future operations

- Increasing the capacity of the B-2's onboard computer processors, which is being consumed by the ongoing upgrade programs

Related Links
Northrop Grumman

NAVAIR Selects M-PACT For IR Missile Seeker Cooling
Montville NJ (SPX) Jun 15, 2006
Marotta Controls announced today that it has been selected by NAVAIR to build high-pressure pneumatic Pure Air Generating Systems for integration into the LAU-7 and LAU-127 missile rail launchers using its proprietary Pure Air Compression Technology, M-PACT.

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