ASQ-236 Unveiled

The U.S. Air Force recently unveiled the ASQ-236, a previously classified radar pod for the F-15E:

(Photo: USAF)

What is not quite clear is what special capabilities the system offers beyond the all-weather capability. One theory is it may have counter-IED uses, although that would not have been a primary mission given development began before that threat was front-and-center on the minds of military planners. So perhaps the real value is simply the high-resolution synthetic aperture radar capabilities.

Here’s the USAF write up for the system:

U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet

AN/ASQ-236 RADAR POD

An/ASQ-236 Radar Pod

Mission
The AN/ASQ-236 Radar Pod contains synthetic aperture radar that provides detailed maps for surveillance, coordinate generation and bomb impact assessment purposes. This technology provides Combat Air Forces with the ability to precisely geo-locate points of interest and conduct surveillance activities day or night, in adverse weather conditions.

Features
Operational on the F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft, the AN/ASQ-236 pod system is externally mounted and fully integrated with the aircraft. The radar pod is a self-contained system consisting of an antenna, inertial navigation system, and environmental cooling system. The antenna is attached to a positioner plate that allows it to move about the roll axis.

The pod design also incorporates a fully automated built-in-test, or BIT, that indicates the health of the system to the operator and maintenance crews. The BIT allows fault isolation to the line-replaceable module level enabling high system availability.

Background
Recognizing the need for an all-weather precision geo-location and reconnaissance system with the reliability and performance inherent in Active Electronically Scanned Array radars, the U.S. Air Force with Northrop Grumman embarked on a program in the late 1990s to design, fabricate, test and field a unique radar system known as the AN/ASQ-236.

Information concerning the design, development, and production of the ASQ-236 is classified to protect critical technologies and improved operational capabilities. By leveraging the technology development associated with the F-22 Raptor, the release of this new sensor will enhance all-weather precision geo-location and provide greater surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities supporting current and future operations.

General Characteristics
Primary function:
Precision geo-location and non-traditional intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance
Prime Contractor: Northrop Grumman Corporation
Length: 130 inches (3.302 meters)
Diameter: 20 inches (0.508 meters)
Weight: 1, 000 pounds (454 kilograms)
Aircraft: F-15E
Date Deployed: June 2009
Inventory: Classified

Point of Contact
96th Air Base Wing, Public Affairs Office, 101 West D Avenue, Suite 109; Eglin AFB, FL 32542; 850-882-3931.

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