April 19, 2006 As networks connect business and social communities by efficiently sharing information, so too do military networks and the drive towards a networked battlefield is now relentless. An example of the efficiencies available in the battlespace was recently successfully demonstrated when an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet provided targeting coordinates to other aircraft using the Raytheon APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar system. During the test at the Naval Air Weapons Center at China Lake, Calif., an AESA-equipped F/A-18F created a long-range, high resolution synthetic aperture radar map and designated four closely-spaced stationary targets. The aircraft then data-linked two target designations to non-AESA equipped Super Hornets, which successfully delivered four 2,000-lb. Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM). All four weapons impacted the targets within lethal distance. The targeting Super Hornet then used the AESA to provide highly detailed bomb damage assessments to confirm the hits.
"This demonstration proves some of the capabilities of the Block II Super Hornet we have been talking about," said Capt. Donald "BD" Gaddis, F/A-18 program manager for the U.S. Navy. "This is just one element of the tremendous networking potential of the Block II Super Hornet for our warfighters."
The AESA radar provides the warfighter with higher resolution at much longer ranges than traditional, mechanically scanned arrays. This information enables other aircraft crews to more precisely target weapons for greater accuracy. Additional demonstrations of the Super Hornet's future precision engagement capabilities are planned as part of tests leading to the program's Operational Evaluation later this year.
"We continue to demonstrate the incremental capability improvements we promised from the beginning of the Super Hornet program," says Bob Feldmann, Boeing vice president for the F/A-18 program. "While we will continue to provide future enhancements, this latest milestone demonstrates the affordable capability the F/A-18 program brings to our customer today."
"It's great to see our revolutionary APG-79 AESA radar continue to soundly hit its milestones and sustain Raytheon's commitment to provide the U.S. Navy with 'best of breed' technology harnessed in an unparalleled radar capability," said Erv Grau, vice president, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. "This network targeting demonstration using our APG-79 AESA radar truly shows the force multiplier capacity of an AESA-equipped Super Hornet. This is the first time that target coordinates were generated by one F/A-18 aircraft and passed via data link to other F/A-18 aircraft. Close teamwork among the Navy, Boeing and Raytheon continues to produce superior warfighting capabilities such as this."