Lockheed Martin yesterday unveiled a new version of the evergreen F-16 Fighting Falcon designated the F-16V. The new moniker is derived from the fighter’s long-standing unofficial nickname: Viper. It will apply to existing aircraft that are upgraded with AESA radars, and new builds. The F-16V will also include a new mission computer and cockpit display.
The U.S. strategic tilt toward the Asia Pacific region plays to Raytheon Co.’s strength in active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, a key technology being used and sought by countries in the region to enhance the capabilities of their legacy fourth-generation fighters.
The Obama administration decided against selling 66 new F-16s to Taiwan, notifying the U.S. Congress instead of a planned $5.3 billion upgrade of the island nation’s existing F-16 fleet to include active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and other new systems.
Following a successful series of trials in a U.S. Air Force F-16 that began late last year, Northrop Grumman’s SABR (scalable agile beam radar) has been refined to the point where the company says it is ready for production. Since receiving limited export clearance in February, Northrop Grumman has been actively marketing the radar upgrade to a number of F-16 users, and it hopes the U.S. Air Force will move ahead with an F-16 radar upgrade.
Northrop Grumman has selected the Multi-Function Active Sensor (MFAS) radar from the corporation’s Electronic Systems division to equip its entry in the BAMS competition. The Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program is being run by the U.S. Navy for an unmanned maritime patrol aircraft capable of medium-altitude, long-endurance patrols.
The Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 60 operated by the United Arab Emirates air force could be described as military aviation’s version of a “missing link.” Its on-board systems are the most advanced of any F-16 ever built, so much so that it bridges the gap between the futuristic capabilities of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the previous F-16C/D Block 50 series.
Northrop Grumman’s active electronically scanning array (AESA) radars have undoubtedly made a big impact on fighter technology. The AN/APG-77, the AN/APG-80 and the AN/APG-81 are fitted, respectively, to Lockheed Martin’s F-22A Raptor, F-16E/F Block 60 Desert Falcon, and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).