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April 17, 2013

Northrop offers scalable agile beam radar for USAF’s F-16 upgrade

Northrop Grumman is offering its scalable agile beam radar (SABR) for the US Air Force's (USAF) Lockheed Martin-built F-16 Fighting Falcons aircraft upgrade programme, a company official has revealed.

F-16 fighter

Northrop Grumman is offering its scalable agile beam radar (SABR) for the US Air Force’s (USAF) Lockheed Martin-built F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft upgrade programme, a company official has revealed.

Having recently lost to the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR) for the South Korean F-16C/D modernisation contract, the company’s new offering is for the combat avionics programmed extension suite (CAPES) upgrade programme.

Northrop Grumman Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting Systems Division vice president Joseph Ensor was quoted by Flightglobal as saying that the company has to compete and secure the contract, but remains hopeful of winning due to the technology and product offering.

With Lockheed as prime integrator, the programme includes retrofit of the USAF 300 F-16 C/D jets with new active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars and other electronic warfare systems to boost their combat capabilities until the arrival of F-35 joint strike fighters.

The CAPES programme will serve as a starting point for future F-16 upgrade foreign military sales (FMS) contracts, with Taiwan expected to be one of the launch customers, according to Ensor.

A multifunction AESA radar, SABR is designed to provide F-16 pilots with longer detection and tracking ranges, high-resolution search and rescue maps for all-environment precision targeting, interleaved mode operations for enhanced situational awareness, and reliability in the battlefield.

Featuring hardware and software commonality with the F-22 Raptor’s APG-77 and F-35 APG-81 radars, the radar is expected to offer several benefits for both the air force and Lockheed as pilots moving from one airframe to another will be familiar with many of the displays.

The system has already completed a series of demonstration flights is support of the USAF’s F-16 AESA feasibility study at Edwards Air Force Base in California, US, in 2010.

Selection of CAPES programme’s AESA supplier is expected to take place in August this year.

Image: A USAF’s F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft takes off during the Cope North 2012 exercise at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, Japan. Photo: US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeffrey Schultze/Released.

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