Going Large

The Senate Armed Services Committee on June 25 added $92 million to the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2010 budget proposal to mature MP-RTIP radar technology “for deployment on a large aircraft.” The Air Force has been pursuing a version of the sophisticated radar sensor for use on the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, but is also studying the merits of integrating a comparatively larger version on the E-8C Joint STARS ground-surveillance aircraft. Earlier this decade, the service was planning to fit an even larger version of MP-RTIP onto its E-10A Multisensor Command and Control Aircraft, the notional successor to Joint STARS, AWACS, and Rivet Joint platforms. But MC2A was subsequently cancelled. Compared to the smaller MP-RTIP configuration on Global Hawk, a larger variant would be able to track hard-to-detect cruise missiles, Air Force and industry officials have said. A Northrop Grumman-Raytheon team builds the radar. Just last week, the Air Force and Northrop rolled out the first of the 15 planned Global Hawk Block 40 air vehicles that will carry MP-RTIP. This aircraft is scheduled to begin flight tests next month. (SASC markup summary)