USAF’s Aeronautical Systems Center formally broached the topic of upgrading legacy F-16s with new active electronically scanned array radars, issuing a request for information. This preliminary solicitation is the first step toward replacing current APG-68 fire control radars on between 300 and 600 later model F-16s. The RFI, issued at the end of June, specifies the Air Force’s interest in existing AESA systems that can be retrofitted onto “the existing Block 40/42/50/52 aircraft without extensive structural, electrical, or environmental cooling system modifications.” This stipulation likely limits eventual bidding to Northrop Grumman or Raytheon, reported FlightGlobal. Both companies began replacement radar programs in the form of Northrop’s scalable agile beam radar and Raytheon’s advanced combat radar, anticipating a future Air Force need several years ago. The Air Force envisions beginning the actual replacement of F-16 radars as early as 2017, according to the RFI.
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.