AUSTRALIAN INTERNATIONAL AIR SHOW, Feb. 11, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has completed initial testing of the first production Multirole Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar antenna for Australia's Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.
The MESA antenna exploits leading-edge technology by combining two side-looking phased arrays with an innovative end-firing "top hat" antenna that emits and shapes a beam in the fore and aft directions. This combination makes MESA the first airborne surveillance radar that provides a 360-degree azimuth scan without mechanical rotation of a radar dish.
Designed under contract to The Boeing Company for the Australian Defence Force (ADF), the MESA will be integrated into a modified Boeing 737-700 aircraft. The first of these platforms rolled off the factory line in October 2002 at the company's Renton, Wash., facility in the U.S. The ADF has purchased a total of four aircraft.
Attached to the top aft section of the fuselage, the MESA antenna is constructed of ultralight material. It 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.
The first production MESA antenna was rolled out of Northrop Grumman's Baltimore, Md., facility, where it is also undergoing initial system testing. A second antenna will be delivered later this spring. Main system integration testing will begin in late 2003 and continue through 2006. The first flight of a MESA-equipped 737-700 is scheduled for early 2004, with major integration flight testing to follow.
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.
Headquartered in Baltimore, Md., Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems is a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of defense 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, logistics systems, and automation and information systems.
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