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Aero India 2023

AESA radar on board F-35 fighter validates efficacy


A file photo of F-35 fighter aircraft.

ARLINGTON, US (BNS): Northrop Grumman-designed APG-81 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar has achieved success in tracking long range targets during a recent test on board an F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft.

The radar, which underwent the test as part of the first mission systems test flights of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II BF-4 aircraft, “met and exceeded performance expectations, tracking long range targets at all aspect angles with excellent stability,” Northrop announced.

The AN/APG-81 radar detected airborne targets before the radars on the F-16 and F-18 chase planes, Jeff Leavitt, vice president of combat avionics at Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector, said.

The AESA radar was first test flown in 2005, mounted on board Northrop Grumman’s BAC 1-11 airborne laboratory. The first radar flight on Lockheed Martin's CATBird avionics test bed aircraft took place in November 2008.

During the recent test, the F-35 fighter was also equipped with Northrop-designed revolutionary Electro-Optical Distributed Aperture System, which provides passive missile and aircraft threat detection, as well as infrared day and night vision to the aircraft, the company said.

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