Plug-and-play avionics, new radars save maintenance costs while giving cutting-edge abilities
Raytheon’s drop-in, plug-and-play technology is turning older aircraft into cutting-edge fighters, allowing countries to squeeze the most out their fleets even in a time of tighter budgets.
New radars, cockpit upgrades and heads-up helmet technology give new power to proven, dependable airframes like the F-16. Datalink messages, video and annotated imagery seamlessly integrate the aircraft with ground forces.
“The technology is a pilot's dream,” said Kenneth “Murph” Murphy, a former F-16 and F-22 pilot who currently works at Raytheon.
The export-ready Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (view interactive) adds advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) technology to the F-16 and F/A-18 A-D, giving the jets broad new abilities while vastly reducing maintenance costs.
Unlike older radars that move the transmitter mechanically, AESA radars steer radio waves electronically. They can see farther, look in different directions simultaneously, track targets faster and work longer without maintenance.
In the F-16, RACR works with the Raytheon modular mission computer, center display unit, HARM Targeting System, electronic warfare gear and various weapons.
“AESA technology gives new life to existing fighter jets,” Murphy said. “Bottom line: no matter what platform you fly, AESA is a force multiplier.”
In the cockpit, Raytheon’s Center Display Unit upgrade replaces all analog instruments with a full-color, digital, 6-by 8-inch touch-screen monitor. The screen features picture-in-picture capability. It’s all done without modifying the cockpit or cutting a single wire.
Raytheon’s Helmet Mounted Information Technology takes this improvement even further by coupling the display unit with a monocle positioned just over the pilot’s eye. The pilot can track friendlies and enemies on the ground and in the air, see important flight data and target weapons, all without looking down at the instruments. The monocle’s view is fully customizable and easily adjusted.
The HMIT system also includes 3D audio that pinpoints through sound exactly where hostile fire is coming from. Pilots simply turn their heads toward the sound and target their weapons.
Visitors to Raytheon’s pavilion at the 2012 Farnborough International Airshow can try out these and other technologies using the company’s unique 4D simulator.