APG-79 AESA radar – Making the Super Hornet a two-fisted fighter

FA18 Super Hornet Radar Delivers Multiple JDAMs On Target

Some of the various advanced electronics systems in newer fighters have been mentioned here on MO recently, one of them being the Active Electronically Scanned Array radar. The APG-79, scheduled to go operational on F/A-18s beginning later next year:

The system successfully delivered multiple JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munition) using real-time targeting coordinates derived from a high resolution SAR (synthetic aperture radar) image during recent testing at the U.S. Navy’s China Lake facility.

This latest demonstration confirms the radar’s real-time targeting capability and establishes a new standard for time-critical precision strike. The APG-79 radar also allows aircrews to operate at a greater stand-off distance, in all weather and has the ability to target multiple coordinates off the same map, which has not been possible before.


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The program has also been highly successful during the recent air-to-air live fire demonstrations last month in which an AMRAAM was successfully deployed. This proved that weapons delivery from an AESA equipped F/A-18 can now be executed at ranges not possible before.

“In the past, the weapon’s capability exceeded that of the aircraft. The missile could reach the target, but the radar couldn’t see it. Now, with the APG-79 radar, the aircraft’s capability exceeds that of the weapon, and this gives us an enormous advantage when prosecuting a mission,” said Capt. Aaron “Slime” Bowman, U.S. Navy AESA program manager for the F/A-18.

According to this C4ISR Journal article, the only AESA radars currently in active service are those equipping one squadron of F-15Cs at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, the APG-63(V)2. They were upgraded to (V2) by adding an AESA antenna to a base APG-63 in order to be able to target cruise missiles. The new F/A-22 Raptors use the APG-77 AESA radar, a far more capable unit.

Other AESA radar systems in the pipeline include the APG-63(V)3 and -(V)4 models for potential use on F-15s and the APG-81 for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. It seems that the APG-80, an AESA radar system for the F-16 Falcon, has only been used on the Block 60 models which are being built for the United Arab Emirates. Even the F-16Is for Israel don’t have AESA radar.