Northrop Grumman has announced that it has begun production of the Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) sensor for the US Air Force E-7 aircraft.

The MESA system is an advanced and versatile radar providing long-range critical sensing, detection, and identification in challenging environments, providing the US Air Force with the ability to perform a wide range of mission types in challenging environments through air-to-air and air-to-ground operations. 

The E-7 aircraft is a modified Boeing 737 airliner that serves as an airborne command and control platform for the US Air Force. The plane has sensors and communications systems that enable it to operate in various environments, from combat zones to disaster relief efforts.

Northrop Grumman has been working on the MESA programme for several years, and the system has undergone extensive testing and evaluation to ensure that it meets the requirements of the US Air Force. The sensor is already in production and is being deployed for customers worldwide. 

“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,” said Ed Griebel, vice president of airborne surveillance programs, Northrop Grumman. “As we fulfill our promise to the US 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.”

GlobalData’s “The Global Military Airborne Radar Market 2019-2029” states that Northrop Grumman is the highest estimated revenue earner over 2019-2029 and is anticipated to account for US $8bn in earnings. Northrop Grumman is the primary radar supplier for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and APG-78 Longbow Fire Control Radar for AH-64 Apache. 

To address global threats in the modern-day battlespace, other E-7 operators include the Republic of Korea Air Force, the Turkish Air Force and the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force. Production is underway on the United Kingdom E-7 AEW&C fleet

In March, Boeing was awarded a $1.2bn contract to provide development activities for the Rapid Prototype Programme for the US Air Force’s E-7 aircraft fleet. The E-7 Wedgetail Aircraft is to replace the E-3 sentry aircraft.