21:24 GMT25 January 2020
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    US Air Force officials said last year that the goal of equipping the F-16s with sophisticated radars is to bring its capabilities closer to those of the fifth generation F-35 jet which has faced a spate of technical problems in the past.

    The US Air Force (USAF) has completed installation of Northrop Grumman Corporation’s new AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) radars on Air National Guard F-16 fighter jets stationed at a naval base in Maryland, the American defence giant announced on Monday.

    “The APG-83 radar provides unprecedented, active electronically scanned array (AESA) targeting and fire control capabilities to the F-16 fleet to ensure the superior effectiveness of the Air National Guard’s mission”, Mark Rossi, director of SABR programs with Northrop Grumman, said.

    He added that the radar was specifically designed “to maximise the performance" of the F-16 with an affordable and scalable architecture, based upon advancements made through the introduction of Northrop Grumman’s APG-77 AESA for the F-22 Raptor and APG-81 AESA for the F-35 Lightning II”.

    The remarks come after the Pentagon’s press service reported in December that the US Department of Defence had granted Northrop Grumman Systems a $1 billion “definitised modification” to a previously-awarded contract to install SABR radars on up to 372 of the USAF’s F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters.

    The defence giant was originally selected by the USAF for an F-16 radar upgrade in 2017, with the Pentagon dolling out $243.8 million for 72 radars, spare parts and support services.

    The SABR radar can be mounted aboard various fighter aircraft, and its capabilities are said to be derived from the defence giant’s series of 5th gen AESA radars for the USAF’s F-22 and the F-35 jets.

    F-35 Faces Spate of Troubles

    First introduced in 1978, and serving in nearly all of the US’s foreign wars since then, the F-16 was slated to be replaced by the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter as of the early 2010s.

    However, a slew of problems with that advanced but pricey aircraft’s introduction have kept the F-16 operational longer than planned – first until 2025, and then to as late as possibly 2048.

    With the budget for the F-35 surpassing $1 trillion, documents obtained by Defence News indicate that some F-35 pilots experience cabin pressure spikes which give them ear and sinus pain, while the jet receives structural damage at speeds beyond Mach 1.2 and has problems operating in areas with cold weather.

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    Tags:
    performance, radar, F-16, F-22 Raptor, F-35, United States
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