Coming within Range

The Northrop Grumman-Raytheon team upgrading the radar on the B-2A bomber anticipates going under contract around early December to start building the radar units for the 20-aircraft fleet, Dave Mazur, Northrop’s point man for B-2 modernization efforts, said Tuesday. Mazur told reporters at AFA’s Air & Space Conference that the industry team has already submitted its proposal to the Air Force for the 14 radar sets plus the two spare sets that it will supply during the radar modernization program’s $550 million production phase. Each radar unit consists of two active electronically steered arrays, one on either side of the aircraft’s cockpit. Already radar builder Raytheon has provided six production-representative sets during the program’s developmental phase that are essentially the same as the production units and will be used operationally like them, Mazur said. The Air Force is upgrading the arrays so that the B-2s radar can operate on a different frequency in the Ku-band to avoid interfering with a commercial customer that was granted primary rights to the current frequency. The Air Force wants to have six B-2As fitted with the new radar and cleared for operations in Fiscal 2010 and have the entire fleet upgraded and ready to go in the following year, Mazur said. The B-2 fleet is currently operating under a government waiver that allows it to keep using the radars in the current frequency for the time being. Mazur said initial operational test and evaluation of the upgraded radar is set to commence in November.