Northrop Grumman says it's on track to fly its SABR active electronically scanned array radar on an F-16 in November - with the help of its principal target customer, the US Air Force.
The USAF provided a Block 50* F-16 at Edwards AFB for SABR fit checks in June, and has agreed to make the same aircraft available for a half-dozen test flights later this year.Photo: Northrop Grumman
While the Air Force has no formal requirement to retrofit an AESA to its F-16s, Northrop says it did request schedule and pricing data for input into its POM 2012 budget planning. Presumably Raytheon has provided similar data for its competing RACR F-16 retrofit AESA.
The Air Force is looking at the possibility of retrofitting some portion of its F-16s with AESAs and other improvements, as it is doing with its F-15Cs to provide a core fleet of upgraded "Golden Eagles" Apparently the upgraded F-16s are being dubbed "Platinum Vipers".
Northrop Grumman is funding SABR concept-development work itself, and paying Lockheed Martin for the necessary integration work on the F-16. The Air Force is providing the aircraft, pilot and technicians to remove the existing mechanically scanned APG-68 radar and install the SABR.
The F-16 flights will demonstrate the five basic SABR modes already flown on Northrop's Saberliner testbed and ported over from the APG-80 active-array radar now operational in the United Arab Emirates' Block 60 F-16s. These are: air-to-air search and track, air-to-ground ranging, synthetic-aperture radar and ground moving-target indication.
[*NOTE - "Block 60" corrected to "Block 50" - thanks ELP]