AUSTRALIAN INTERNATIONAL AIR SHOW, Feb. 11, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has begun structural testing of the antenna for its Multirole Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar, which the company is producing under contract to The Boeing Company for the Australian Defence Force's Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.
The 14-month test program, which is being performed at a company facility in El Segundo, Calif., is designed to demonstrate compliance with both the static and dynamic strength and fatigue requirements for safety certification by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. Limit loads will be placed on the antenna in order to stress the structure to the design limits that will be encountered by the airframe, a modified Boeing 737-700.
The dynamic testing will simulate 200,000 flight hours. Data reduction and analysis will be completed before the first flight of a MESA-equipped 737, which is scheduled to take place during the second quarter of 2004. The first phase of testing, for static loads, will be completed by June 2003. The dynamic phase will be completed by April 2004.
MESA antenna no. 1, which was rolled out in October 2002 at Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems facility in Baltimore, Md., has begun a series of tests at the company's test range. MESA antenna no. 2 is scheduled for delivery in April 2003, and work has already started on the third antenna. Australia has ordered four systems, with options for three additional units.
The MESA antenna is an innovative aperture that provides a 360-degree azimuth scan with no mechanical rotation. Attached to the top aft section of the fuselage, it consists of an advanced composite structure that supports side-emitting electronic manifold arrays and a "top hat" end-fire array. Its ultralight construction enables state-of-the-art performance at a fraction of current system weights, thereby allowing additional time on station for the aircraft.
MESA will provide multiple surveillance applications, using pulse doppler radar forms for air search and pulse forms for maritime surface search. It also will provide in the same aperture an integrated civil and military identification friend-or-foe (IFF) capability.
Northrop Grumman will also supply prime contractor Boeing with the electronics for the MESA radar and IFF, the power supply systems, and the radar software, parts of which are supplied by its Australian industry partners, Tenix Pty Ltd., Adelaide; Cablex Pty Ltd., East Bentleigh, Victoria; and Thycon Pty Ltd., Melbourne.
Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector, headquartered in Baltimore, Md., is a world leader in the design, development, and manufacture of defense and commercial electronics systems, including airborne radar systems, navigation systems, electronic warfare systems, precision weapons, airspace management systems, air defense systems, communications systems, space systems, marine systems, oceanic and naval systems, government systems, and logistic services.
CONTACT: Doug Cantwell Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems (410) 765-9332