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USAF Completes National Guard F-16 Fleet Radar Upgrade

The US Air Force has completed the installation of the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) on a fleet of 72 Air National Guard F-16 aircraft.

The installation increases the fleet’s “operational viability and reliability,” providing pilots with “5th generation fighter radar capabilities,” the manufacturer stated.

The Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar’s “greater bandwidth, speed, and agility” enables faster tracking, detection, and identification of a greater number of air-to-air and air-to-ground targets such as air defense radars and surface-to-air missiles at longer range.

Moreover, the SABR’s “all-weather, high-resolution synthetic aperture radar mapping” generates a larger target surface image than previous systems, enabling more precise targeting.

AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar
AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam radar. Image: Northrop Grumman

Three Hundred More F-16s to Be Upgraded

The installation is in response to a 2017 US Northern Command Joint Emergent Operational Need to upgrade the homeland defense against Russian cruise missiles, according to Aviation Today.

The AESA radars were intended to replace the fourth-generation aircraft’s mechanically scanned AN/APG-68 radars, according to The Drive

The installation began in 2020 after the air force awarded Northrop the potentially $1 billion contract for 372 radars in December 2019. The contract could increase by another $800 million for proposed “upgradable software” to increase the aircraft’s service life by another 20 years, Aviation Today added.

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