C4iSR: Air

USAF buys AESA radars for F-16s

02 March 2020

Maintenance personnel install mounting hardware for an APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar on a 416th Flight Test Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon during fitting trials. The USAF has now contracted Northrop Grumman to deliver 15 EMD and 90 production-standard radars for retrofit into the F-16. Source: US Air Force

The US Air Force (USAF) is progressing integration of the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) aboard the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, with a USD262 million radar procurement award announced on 28 February.

The contract covers 15 engineering, manufacturing, and development (EMD) and 90 production active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, as well as associated support equipment and spares.

Work will be performed at Linthicum Heights, Maryland, and is expected to be completed by December 2022.

The USAF is looking to replace the F-16's mechanically scanned AN/APG-66 and AN/APG-68 radars with the latest AESA technology. Developed as a 'form-fit' solution for the F-16, the SABR can be fitted without any major modifications to the structure of the aircraft, or to its power and cooling systems. As noted by the USAF, the increased bandwidth of the SABR radar would enable the F-16 to detect, track, and identify greater numbers of targets faster, and at greater distances.

The USAF currently operates more than 1,000 F-16C/D aircraft of Block 40/42/50/52 configurations. The AESA retrofit is part of a wider service-life extension programme (SLEP) involving 350 of the service's F-16s to see them out to 2048 and beyond (included in this are 136 Block 40 to 50 aircraft that will have their wings overhauled). The USAF received its Block 40/42 F-16C/D in 1989, with deliveries of the first Block 50/52 aircraft starting in 1994.

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