US Minnesota Air National Guard’s (ANG) 148th Fighter Wing (FW) has received new active electronical scanned array (AESA) radars for nine Block 50 F-16CM aircraft.

The new radars will allow F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots to easily identify targets both on land and in the air.

This radar upgrade initiative was funded by the US Air Combat Command (ACC). The associated work commenced in early September and continue until December.

A team of technicians from 148th FW and Lockheed Martin were deployed to carry out the related work on a total of nine fighter jets.

148th FW avionics technician lead staff sergeant Scott Phillips said: “Each jet took approximately seven-days with technicians from both 148th FW and Lockheed Martin performing work.

“We took apart the front end of the jet, removing the antenna, computer and all other old radar components, then Lockheed Martin technicians installed new radar components and performed operational checks.”

Based at Duluth ANG Base in Minnesota, the 148th FW serves both as a Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD/DEAD) and a North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Aerospace Control Alert-trained (ACA) flying unit.

It is one of the five F-16 SEAD/DEAD units in the US Air Force (USAF), while one of two SEAD/DEAD units in the ANG.

Apart from recent AESA upgrade, the F-16 fleet is also expected to receive various other structural and strengthening modifications under F-16 service life extension programme (SLEP) to continue supporting the USAF missions until mid-2040s. 

148th FW Weapons chief major Michael Kuzmuk said: “The AESA modernisation is the biggest improvement to the F-16 since it came off the assembly line. It allows us to see a much clearer picture of our targets in real-time.”