Officials of the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, announced a $52.6 million order Thursday to the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics segment in Marietta, Ga., to install a common terrain following, terrain avoidance radar system aboard Special Forces MC-130J Commando II aircraft.
Lockheed Martin will install the Silent Knight terrain-following/terrain-avoidance (TF/TA) radar aboard MC-130J aircraft. The radar system comes from the Raytheon Co. Space And Airborne Systems segment in McKinney, Texas. Lockheed Martin is prime contractor for the MC-130J.
The Silent Knight radar is an above-K-band multi-aircraft TF/TA radar designed to enable Special Forces aircraft like the MC-130J infiltrate dangerous areas undetected and at night with reduced risks of crashing while flying at low altitudes.
Special Operations commanders need aircraft capable of flying at low altitudes covertly at night to insert and remove commando forces for operations behind enemy lines.
The system also provides navigation support, ground mapping, and weather information to air crews. The radar has advanced terrain-following and -avoidance capabilities and will be lighter and require less power than its predecessors.
Other Special Forces aircraft that can be fitted with the Silent Knight radar include the MH-47 and MH-60 helicopters and CV-22 tiltrotor. The security level of the Silent Knight program is at the secret level of classification due to its sensitive nature.
The Silent Knight radar operates at low-power levels to reduce its chances of being detected by enemy passive RF receivers. The system also has color weather tactical data displays to enhance pilot situational awareness.
Essentially the Silent Knight radar system enables MC-130J and other Special Forces aircraft to fly close to terrain -- hugging low spots in mountain passes, valleys, and other terrain features -- even when darkness and bad weather cause zero-visibility.
The system's sophisticated weather radar also enables the aircraft to hide in clouds, fog, dust, rain storms, and total darkness at very low altitudes. Its radar can pick out key details like electrical towers and high-tension power lines while providing pilots with enough warning to avoid them.
On this order Lockheed Martin will do the work in Marietta, Ga., and should be finished by December 2020. For more information contact Lockheed Martin Aeronautics online at www.lockheedmartin.com/us/aeronautics, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems at www.raytheon.com, or the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at www.wpafb.af.mil/aflcmc.