The AN/APG-79 is an active electronically array radar which was developed by Raytheon Company to be used by the US Navy aboard the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft. The APG-79 is fitted out with transmit/receive (TR) modules populated with GaAs MMICs. The beam of the AN/APG-79 renders nearly instantaneous track updates and multi-target tracking capability. To make maintenance easier, this radar is installed in a slide-out nose rack of the aircraft. The APG-79 is equipped with an entirely solid-state antenna construction, which improves reliability and lowers the cost compared to a traditional system. The radome of the APG-79 for the F/A-18E/F slides forward instead of hinging to the right, which saves space in aircraft carrier hangars. This aircraft-based radar is compatible with current F/A-18 weapon loads and enables aircrew to fire the AIM-120 AMRAAM, simultaneously guiding several missiles to several targets widely spaced in azimuth, elevation or range.
With its active electronic beam scanning — which allows the radar beam to be steered at nearly the speed of light — the APG-79 optimizes situational awareness and provides superior air-to-air and air-to-ground capability. The agile beam enables the radar’s air-to-air and air-to-ground modes to interleave in near-real time, so that pilot and crew can use both modes simultaneously, an unprecedented technological leap. The APG-79 demonstrates reliability, image resolution, and targeting and tracking range significantly greater than that of the current F/A-18 radar. With its open systems architecture and compact, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) parts, it delivers dramatically increased capability in a smaller, lighter package. The array is composed of numerous solid-state transmit and receive modules to virtually eliminate mechanical breakdown.
The APG-79 radar completed formal operational evaluation testing in December 2006. As of January 2007 the radar was installed in 28 aircraft; some were experiencing software problems but that issue was expected to be resolved by the end of fiscal year 2007. As of July 2008, Raytheon had delivered 100 APG-79 sets to the Navy; on June 3, 2008, the Navy received the first APG-79-equipped EA-18G Growler. The Navy expects to order approximately 400 production radars.