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Northrop Grumman Hosts Special Event to Honor 40th Anniversary of AWACS Radar

Northrop Grumman Corporation hosted a special event to honor the 40th anniversary of the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) radar, one of the company's longest-running programs and a vital part of the premier air battle command and control aircraft in the world.

Northrop Grumman's Linthicum-based Electronic Systems sector (then part of Westinghouse Electric Corporation) was competitively selected to design and produce the AWACS radar in 1972. The first production radar, the AN/APY-1, was delivered to The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) for the U.S. Air Force in October 1976, and AWACS achieved operational capability in 1978. AWACS has been a key airborne surveillance tool of the Air Force ever since. The company has also provided radars for AWACS aircraft for NATO, the United Kingdom, France, Saudi Arabia and Japan.

"The great technical innovation behind the development of the AWACS radar 40 years ago made it an indispensable element of modern air operations," said Joseph Ensor, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman's ISR and Targeting Systems Division. "With continuing dedication, the Northrop Grumman team is ensuring that the radar will meet the evolving roles and missions of AWACS for years to come."

The AWACS radar is considered the most capable airborne surveillance system in the world. The system provides three-dimensional, long-range, 360-degree coverage and electronic countermeasures, and can survey up to 200,000 square miles around the aircraft, or 250 miles in all directions. The radar is mounted in a rotating dome atop two versions of the E-3 AWACS aircraft, which are provided by Boeing.

In 1999, the first AWACS aircraft went through the Radar System Improvement Program (RSIP). RSIP is a joint U.S./NATO development program that included major hardware and software modifications to the existing radar system. RSIP enhanced the operational capability of the radar's electronic countermeasures ability and improved the system's reliability, maintainability and availability. This helped modernize the AWACS fleet, which the U.S. expects to operate beyond 2035.

Over the years, AWACS has been deployed during Operations Desert Storm, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and Noble Eagle, among other actions. In the 21st century, AWACS supports a variety of missions such as peace support operations, multinational coalition operations, air control, homeland defense, counter-narcotics, and combat search and rescue.


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