Minnesota Air National Guard F-16s Receive Latest AESA Radar

The 148th Fighter Wing of the Minnesota Air National Guard has received the latest active electronic scanned array (AESA) radar for nine F-16 Fighting Falcons to “find targets in the air and on the ground more easily.”

The Air Combat Command funded the upgrades which began in September and finished in December.

“Each jet took approximately seven days with technicians from both the 148th Fighter Wing and Lockheed Martin performing work,” 148th Fighter Wing Avionics Lead Staff Sgt. Scott Phillips said.

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

148th Fighter Wing

The AESA was handed over at Duluth, Minnesota to the 148th Fighter Wing, a Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD/DEAD) and North American Aerospace Defense Command Aerospace Control Alert (NORAD ACA) unit of the US Air Force and Air National Guard.

An Aircraft Integrated Avionics specialist assigned to the 148th Fighter Wing, Minnesota Air National Guard installs the active electronic scanned array (AESA) radar on an F-16 Fighting Falcon on November 8, 2022 at the Duluth Air National Guard Base, Minnesota. In addition to the AESA radar upgrade, the 148th fleet is undergoing a dozen structural and strengthening modifications through the F-16 service life extension program (SLEP). (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Audra Flanagan)
Avionics specialist installs AESA radar to F-16 aircraft. Photo: Audra Flanagan/US ANG

The SEAD/DEAD team disrupts and destroys air defense threats, including surface-to-air missiles and integrated air defense systems.

Meanwhile, the NORAD ACA leverages flying units to address flight restriction violators, investigate planes without communication contact, and perform emergency takeoff to intercept unknown aircraft.

Modernizing F-16s

The 148th Fighter Wing has been supporting multiple air military bases in the US since 9/11.

Despite being built in the 1990s, the command’s F-16s belong to the advanced combat fleet and are configured for service until the 2040s.

According to the Air National Guard, the latest radar installation is among multiple upgrades implemented into the ongoing F-16 service life extension program.

“The new AESA radars are a huge leap in technology that will make the F-16 more lethal and survivable against potential near peer threats,” 148th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Nathan Aysta stated.

“The AESA modernization 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,” 148th Fighter Wing Weapons Chief Maj. Michael Kuzmuk added.

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