Raytheon Intelligence & Space (RI&S) have successfully conducted the first flight of its pre-production APG-79 (V) 4 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system.

The radar flew on US Marine Corps’ (USMC) F/A-18 Hornet multirole aircraft at Naval Air Weapons Station in China Lake, California.

During the flight test, the USMC pilots demonstrated the radar system’s integration with the classic Hornet avionics. 

The milestone comes after the delivery of the radar system’s prototype in 2021.

The company received a contract in 2019 to provide APG-79 (V) 4 radar system for USMC’s Hornet aircraft fleet.

RI&S F/A-18 and Global Strike Radars vice-president Thomas Shaurette said: “Following successful ground testing and the delivery of the prototype radar, this flight test was critical to observe performance in the air.

“It allowed our partners to see the V4 radar’s enhanced detection and tracking abilities in real-time.”

Raytheon’s APG-79(V)4 is a derivative of APG-79 radar system. It features the first airborne gallium nitride (GaN) AESA fire-control technology.

GaN-AESA radar helps the airmen to identify and track the enemy’s aircraft from far distances with more precision, while fulfilling the aircraft’s power and cooling requirements.

The new APG-79(V)4 radar system is similar, in terms of technology and components, to the current AN/APG-79 radar used in the USMC’s F/A-18 Hornet aircraft fleet.

This makes the integration of new radar system more cost effective and easier to sustain.

Last year, the US Naval Air Systems Command awarded an additional contract modification to provide more radars for the Hornet fleet.

The total production value has reached more than $300m, which includes domestic and foreign military sale customers.