Scalable Beam Radar Successfully Demonstrated Aboard F-16 <





Scalable Beam Radar Successfully Demonstrated Aboard F-16

By Mike Mitchell

January 27, 2010 - Northrop Grumman Corporation in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force, has successfully completed a series of demonstration flights of its Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) installed in the Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.  The demonstration was in support of a U.S. Air Force F-16 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) feasibility study.

"Almost two years ago Northrop Grumman said that air forces of the future will necessarily gravitate toward using AESA technology – especially through scalable retrofit technology.


Our team has worked diligently to make that possible and today we've made it a reality. This officially marks the first time a retrofit AESA has ever flown in a legacy F-16," said Arlene Camp, director of Advanced F-16 Radar Programs at Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector. "This demonstration validated our goal of developing an AESA that can be easily installed on the flight line and integrated with existing power and cooling provisions of currently fielded F-16s," Camp added. "With regard to installed performance, SABR's air-to-air and air-to-ground detection and tracking and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) mapping performance met or exceeded our predictions."  

Northrop Grumman has been the sole provider of radars for the F-16 and for over 30 years has continually improved the F-16 radar's performance and reliability. More than 5,000 F-16 radars have been produced for the U.S. Air Force and 24 nations worldwide.  Because of this extensive foundation and rich F-16 heritage and platform intimacy, Northrop Grumman is the first to design, develop, integrate, test and successfully demonstrate retrofit AESA capability in flight on a legacy F-16.  SABR is part of Northrop Grumman's robust product family of multi-function sensors and capabilities.   


The Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) will be a full performance fire control AESA. SABR will offer all the advantages of an active electronically scanned multi-function array, but at significant cost savings. Designed to support next generation weapons and tactics, the SABR ensures the needed combat advantage over the adversary. While designed initially to fit the F-16 with no structural, power or cooling modifications, the SABR is scalable to fit other aircraft platforms and mission areas.

SABR is an affordable and scalable AESA radar designed for retrofit in current F-16s and other legacy fighter, attack, and training aircraft. Compared to mechanically-scanned array radars, SABR will provide the increased performance, multi-functionality, and greater reliability inherent in AESA radars. In terms of combat capability, SABR provides improved situational awareness, greater detection, high-resolution SAR maps, interleaved air-to-air and air-to-surface mode operations, and an all-environment precision strike capability. 

The Lockheed Martin F-16 is a multirole jet fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force. Designed as a lightweight, daytime fighter, it evolved into a successful multirole aircraft. The F-16's versatility is a paramount reason it has proven a success on the export market, having been selected to serve in the air forces of 25 nations. The F-16 is the largest Western jet fighter program with over 4,400 aircraft built since production was approved in 1976. Though no longer being purchased by the U.S. Air Force, advanced versions are still being built for export customers. In 1993, General Dynamics sold its aircraft manufacturing business to the Lockheed Corporation, which in turn became part of Lockheed Martin after a 1995 merger with Martin Marietta.  

The Fighting Falcon is a dogfighter with numerous innovations including a frameless, bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while under high g-forces, and reclined seat to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot. The F-16 has an internal M61 Vulcan cannon and has 11 hardpoints for mounting various missiles, bombs and pods. It was also the first fighter aircraft deliberately built to sustain 9-g turns. It has a thrust-to-weight ratio greater than one, providing power to climb and accelerate vertically—if necessary.  

Although the F-16's official name is "Fighting Falcon", it is known to its pilots as the "Viper", due to it resembling a viper snake and after the Battlestar Galactica starfighter. In addition to active, and reserve USAF units, the aircraft is used by the USAF aerial demonstration team, U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and as an adversary/aggressor aircraft by the United States Navy. The F-16 is scheduled to remain in service with the U.S. Air Force until 2025. The planned replacement is the F-35 Lightning II, which will gradually begin replacing a number of multirole aircraft among the air arms of the program's member nations. 

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