Northrop Grumman Corp. has successfully demonstrated the capability to generate high-resolution, in-flight synthetic aperture radar (SAR) maps using the AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar being produced for the US Air Force’s F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft.

“The flight tests, on board a company BAC 1-11 test bed aircraft, have proved that the F-22 fighter’s mission capabilities have expanded to include directly identifying and targeting enemy ground defenses and mobile forces,” said Teri Marconi, vice president of Combat Avionics Systems at Northrop Grumman. “This is a hugely significant event for the F-22 program because it ensures that Raptor pilots will have access to critical detailed information about both air and ground threats before the enemy’s radar ever detects the F-22.”

The test flights are the first phase of a planned multi-year contract with the Boeing Co. to incorporate SAR capability into the existing fleet of F-22s and new production aircraft in support of future air-to-ground requirements. Northrop Grumman’s Electronics Systems sector leads a joint venture with the Raytheon Co. to design, develop and produce the F-22 radar system. Northrop Grumman is responsible for the overall design of the AN/APG-77 and AN/APG-77(V) 1 ARSA radars, the latter of which features the new air-to-ground capabilities, including SAR. The company is also responsible for the control and signal processing software and radar system integration and test activities.

The Boeing Co., which is teamed with the prime contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. and Pratt & Whitney to design and build the F-22 Raptor, has responsibility for integrating the radar with the other avionics systems to produce an integrated suite that features sensor-fused target detection and tracking.