Radar Sharing

Northrop Grumman has begun incorporating software modes from the F-35 strike fighter’s APG-81 AESA radar into its Scaleable Agile Beam Radar design, said Dave Wallace, head of the company’s F-16 program development. Briefing reporters Monday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference at National Harbor, Md., Wallace said these modes “are proving very affordable, very stable, and in the future, what the APG-81 gets, [SABR] will too.” One example, he cited, is improved electronic protection offered by the APG-81’s software compared to SABR’s previous software. Northrop has been developing SABR on its own dime, seeing a promising market for F-16 operators who wish to upgrade their legacy F-16s with an advanced electronically scanned array radar system. The Air Force, for example, has expressed an interest in potentially fitting between 300 and 600 F-16s with an AESA. Wallace said SABR technology is at a level of maturity such that Northrop is “approaching a point where we believe that we could go in to a relatively short development … and then proceed with delivering a product.” That timeline, could be “probably less than two years” but would depend on the customer’s needs, he noted. Raytheon is also offering AESA options for the F-16.