Northrop Starts MESA Sensor Production for Future USAF E-7 Aircraft

Northrop Grumman will begin multi-role electronically scanned array (MESA) sensor production for the future US Air Force E-7 airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) aircraft.

The sensor will be integrated into the E-7’s weapon systems to provide detection, long-range sensing, and identification in contested airspace.

The effort supports a $1.2-billion contract with Boeing to replace the air force’s aging E-3 airborne warning and control system fleet.

The MESA Sensor

The MESA sensor gives AEW&C operators the ability to simultaneously work on priority missions and target revisits with improved accuracy and secure communications.

This approach increases efficiency over command and control decisions.

Recently, the MESA’s latest configuration achieved a certification validating the cryptology, advanced waveforms, and related techniques required for enhanced warfighter protection.

The sensor also has an identification friend or foe system for consistent surveillance.

An artist’s depiction shows an E-7A in flight. Image: Boeing

“MESA is on an active production line to address global threats in the modern-day battlespace and evolve to meet future mission requirements,” the company said.

“Australia, Turkey and South Korea have fielded the E-7 system, with production underway on the United Kingdom E-7 AEW&C fleet.”

‘Unmatched’ Capability

Once installed, the sensor will assist the US Air Force in air and maritime sensing, critical early warning, and battle management missions.

“The multifunction MESA sensor will provide the US Air Force with critical multi-domain awareness to enable decision superiority for the range of mission requirements today and into the future,” Northrop Grumman Airborne Surveillance Program Vice President Ed Griebel stated.

“As we fulfill our promise to the Air Force to rapidly bring unmatched, decisive air battle management sensing capabilities including long range first detect and first engagement in the battlespace, we look forward to enabling global allied interoperability in partnership with Boeing.”

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