Northrop Grumman to develop ‘next-generation’ radar for the F-35 Lighting II

Company has a strong presence in Ohio and Dayton area

A defense contractor with a strong presence in Ohio and the Miami Valley will develop a new radar system for the F-35 Lightning II.

Northrop Grumman Corp. is developing an advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, the company said Wednesday.

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The company today makes the AN/APG-81 active electronically scanned array fire control radar, which Northrop called “the cornerstone” to the F-35′s sensor suite. The new system will replace that.

Of the current system, Northrop Grumman on its web site says it provides long range capability allowing a pilot to “detect, track, identify and shoot multiple threat aircraft before the adversary detects the F-35.”

The new radar will “incorporate some of the latest technologies available and help ensure air superiority,” Northrop Grumman said. “This advanced sensor will provide unparalleled battlespace situational awareness that translates into platform lethality, effectiveness and survivability.”

In addition to radars, the company makes the center fuselage and wing skins for the aircraft, produces and maintains several sensor systems, avionics, mission systems and mission-planning software, electronic warfare simulation test capability and low-observable technologies.

Northrop Grumman has more 900 employees in the Dayton region and across the state of Ohio, spokesman Vic Beck told this news outlet. The company has some 90,000 employees nationwide.

Responding to questions about the new radar system Thursday, Beck declined to elaborate beyond the release.

Last year, the F-35 Joint Program Office’s Hybrid Product Support Integrator moved to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

“The capability of the F-35 advanced radar will enhance the DoD’s ability to execute the National Defense Strategy in the future. Therefore, certain information will continue to be protected by enhanced security measures due to the critical nature of the technology,” the Wright-Patterson office said in an email to the Dayton Daily News.

The new radar is planned for fielding in Lot 17 of the F-35′s production and delivery schedule, said Russell Goemaere, an Air Force public affairs officer.  

In December, the Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin announced a new agreement for 145 F-35s for Lot 15, 127 for Lot 16, and up to 126 for Lot 17. The current global fleet stands at 894 aircraft after 141 deliveries in 2022, the office and company said.

Contract details beyond Wednesday’s announcement were not available, Goemaere said.

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