Raytheon [RTN] has been selected to provide the new radar for the Air Force’s B-52 Stratofortress bomber, the company said July 11.

The company will be contracted for a pre-Engineering, Manufacturing and Design phase to design and build a new active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and replace the B-52’s current APQ-166 terrain-following and mapping radars, built by Northrop Grumman [NOC]. The winning radar design is based on AESA technologies from its APG-79/APG-82 radar family. Low-rate initial production is scheduled to begin in 2024, Raytheon said in a Thursday statement.

The Air Force’s B-52H Stratofortress strategic bomber

“When it comes to years spent flying in support of our nation’s defense, our new AESA radars give aircrews the eyes they need to achieve their mission for the duration of the B-52’s service life,” said Eric Ditmars, vice president of Raytheon Secure Sensor Solutions in the statement.

Boeing [BA], the prime contractor and manufacturer of the B-52, confirmed the selection via Twitter Thursday, stating: “After a rigorous competition, we’ve chosen @Raytheon to provide upgraded radar to the #B52 bomber. This will ensure the Stratofortress is ready for the @USAirForce through 2050 and beyond.”

The current pre-EMD contract includes seven radars, said Lori Rasmussen, Boeing spokeswoman, in a Thursday email to Defense Daily. An EMD contract award is expected in 2021. The new radar would eventually be fielded on all 76 B-62H aircraft.

A source close to the program told Defense Daily Thursday that a formal announcement is expected to be made by the Air Force within the next week, which will include contract award amounts. Two bids were received for the program, the source said.

The Air Force set aside $57 million in the fiscal year 2019 defense appropriations bill for the B-52 radar modernization program, and has a current funding plan of $1.1 billion for the program through FY ’24. Analysts at the Jefferies Group noted in an analysis Thursday that the program could be worth over $500 million over the next six years.

Northrop Grumman announced in February that it would pitch its AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) for the B-52 radar replacement program (Defense Daily, Feb. 26).

Northrop Grumman has been notified of Boeing’s decision and is carefully reviewing its next steps, the company said in an emailed statement to Defense Daily Thursday.

“The company continues to believe its offering provides the best value and most advanced technical solution for the U.S. Air Force B-52 fleet and is waiting to hear more about the final evaluation process,” the statement said.

The Air Force and Boeing are working on a series of modernization efforts that will keep the 1960s-era B-52H aircraft flying through 2050, to include a re-engine competition to be awarded in fiscal year 2020. Service officials said at a June conference in Dayton, Ohio that the Air Force is weighing whether to change the aircraft’s model designation from H to J, considering the amount of upgrades that are being performed (Defense Daily, June 21).

Raytheon and United Technologies Corp. [UTX] announced in June that UTC’s aerospace business and Raytheon would merge to create a $73.6 billion defense aerospace business (Defense Daily, June 9). UTC is the parent company of Pratt & Whitney, which is competing for the B-52’s re-engine program with its PW815 system, and also built the B-52’s existing TF33-PW-103 engines.