F-16 aircraft

Northrop Grumman’s Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR), which has been designed for the US Air Force’s (USAF) F-16 Fighting Falcon combat avionics programmed extension suite (CAPES) upgrade programme, has completed demonstration of its autonomous, all-environment precision targeting capability at an undisclosed location.

Dubbed auto target cueing (ATC), the capability uses high-definition synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images for localisation and prioritisation of targets of interest and subsequent display to the pilot, enhancing the aircraft’s mission capabilities.

Northrop Grumman Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting Systems Division vice president and general manager Joseph Ensor said through SABR the company has built on its F-35 radar investment to bring fifth-generation fighter radar capabilities, such as ATC to the F-16 fighter aircraft.

"Features like ATC, along with the F-35 modes that we have ported to SABR, will enable greater mission effectiveness, reduce pilot workload and provide a better level of situational awareness than F-16 pilots have ever had," Ensor added.

The radar’s active electronically scanned array (AESA) architecture enables it to perform target localisation and prioritisation, whilst also conducting other missions.

The multifunction 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.

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With Lockheed Martin as prime integrator, the CAPES programme involves the retrofit of the USAF’s 300 F-16 C/D jets with new AESA radars and other electronic warfare systems to help boost their combat capabilities until the arrival of F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighters.

Selection of CAPES’ AESA supplier is expected to take place in August this year, as reported earlier by Flightglobal.

Initially designed as an air superiority day fighter, F-16 Fighting Falcon later evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft to accurately deliver ordnance during non-visual bombing conditions.

Image: A USAF F-16C Fighting Falcon aircraft during its flight. Photo: Courtesy of SMSGT JOHN P. ROHRER, USAF.

Defence Technology