Saturday, December 4, 2010

The AN/AWG-9 was an all-weather, X-Band, pulse-doppler radar designed by Hughes Aircraft for the US Navy F-14 Tomcat fighter. It was a very long-range air-to-air system with the capability of detecting and tracking more than 20 airborne targets and guiding several AIM-54 Phoenix or AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles at the same time using its track while scan mode. As the AN/AWG-9 used analog electronics, it was later replaced by the AN/APG-71, which was made up of all-digital units.

The AN/AWG-9 featured a variety of air-to-air modes including long-range continuous wave velocity search, range-while-search at shorter ranges, and the first use of an airborne track-while-scan mode with the ability to track up to 24 airborne targets, display 18 of them on the cockpit display panels, and launch against 6 of them at the same time. This function was originally designed to allow the Tomcat to shoot down formations of bombers at long range.

The AN/AWG-9 was the result of a series of Navy programs to build what was known as a "fleet-defense fighter"; an aircraft armed with extremely long-range radars and missiles that would be able to engage formations of enemy aircraft well-away from aircraft carriers. The result was the AN/AWG-9 radar and Phoenix missile. On the F-14, the AWG-9 was capable of detecting bomber-sized targets at ranges exceeding 100 miles (160 km), and its doppler system allowed it to have look-down, shoot-down capabilities. Track-while-scan capability was provided by an Intel 8080 8-bit microprocessor. Programming it was accomplished using an 8-bit Assembly code. Hughes delivered enough AWG-9 systems and spares to equip approximately 600 F-14A/B aircraft for the Navy.