New B-2A Radar Enters Production Phase

The Air Force awarded a production contract worth approximately $468 million Dec. 29 to the Northrop Grumman-led industry team that is upgrading the radar on the B-2A stealth bomber. Under the terms of the deal, the team, which includes radar-provider Raytheon, will supply the remaining advanced electronically scanned array radar units for the Air Force’s 20-aircraft B-2A fleet. The Air Force is upgrading the aircraft’s existing AN/APQ-181 multimode radar under the $1.2 billion B-2 radar modernization program through the addition of modern AESA arrays. Each aircraft will get a pair of new arrays, one for each side of the cockpit. In a statement issued yesterday, the Air Force said these “advanced state-of-the-art radar components” will ensure “sustained operational viability of the B-2 bomber fleet … well into the foreseeable future.” Back in September, industry officials said the production contract would cover 14 radar sets, plus two spare sets. Already Raytheon has provided six production-representative units that are essentially the same as the production units and will be used operationally. These same industry officials said the Air Force wanted to have six B-2As fitted with the new radar and cleared for operations in Fiscal 2010, with the entire fleet upgraded and ready for use in the following year. The award of the production contract follows the recent successful completion of initial operational test and evaluation flight tests at Edwards AFB, Calif., the Air Force said yesterday.