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Air Force faces choice on F-16 AESA upgrade

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posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 11:19 AM
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The Air Force is facing a tough choice on an urgent F-16 AESA upgrade. The choice is between losing capability on the aircraft, or performing the urgently requested upgrade to National Guard F-16s assigned to the Alert mission.

Northcom issued an Urgent Operational Need to upgrade the Block 30 F-16 radars to AESA, which has the ability to detect very small cross sections, such as cruise missiles, within 18 months. To meet that, one option is to install an Air-To-Air only AESA system. But this would lose the ground mapping mode that they currently have, and virtually eliminate their ability to be used in the strike mission.

The other possibility is to develop an integrated system, which would allow the radar to be used in ground mapping mode. The Air Force originally planned for an integrated system, as well as a SLEP to increase airframe life from 8,000 to 10,000 hours, under the Capes program, but it was killed when Sequestration hit.

They have budgeted $25M for an air to air system in 2016. An integrated system would cost $75M (both are total program costs). The unit cost of a stand alone system is $2.8M, while an integrated system is $3.2M. They would prefer to spend the extra and get an integrated system if the money could be found.


The U.S. Air Force is balancing between losing capability and meeting an urgent request to equip Air National Guard Lockheed Martin F-16s assigned to homeland defense with active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars to detect small radar cross-section targets, such as cruise missiles.

U.S. Northern Command has issued an urgent operational need (UON) and the Air Force must decide between fitting the Block 30 F-16s assigned to aerospace control alert with a non-integrated AESA suitable for the air-to-air mission or a fully integrated radar capable of supporting all the F-16’s roles.

If the F-16s are upgraded with an air-to-air-only AESA to meet the 18-month timescale of the UON, “we will lose some capabilities over what we have now,” Maj. Gen. Timothy Ray, Air Force acquisition director for global power programs, told House Armed Services Committee hearing last week.

aviationweek.com...




posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 11:56 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Isn't this the reason they are building the F35 ? I thought the problem was with older airframes that new avionics couldn't be added unless it came at a cost of taking something out



posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 12:05 PM
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a reply to: nelloh62

You can do some upgrades, such as radar. A lot of the new AESA platforms use less power than the mechanically steered arrays, since they don't move. But they are heavier, so you are limited by that. You can't add things like the DAS system that the F-35 carries. Or the sensor fusion systems that it has. There's still a little room to upgrade older aircraft, but they're approaching the edge of their cooling/power abilities.
edit on 4/1/2015 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 12:09 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

I know a lot of people knock the F-35, but i'm a fan of it. Can't wait to see it prove all the disbelievers wrong



posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 01:02 PM
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a reply to: nelloh62

Yes, but the F-35 is a long way away from replacing all the Vipers used for the homeland defense Alert mission. The Viper units are on their own for the foreseeable future and are running up against limits in their capabilities that might prevent them from remaining capable at the Alert mission set.

A little more info here.



posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 01:17 PM
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a reply to: justwanttofly

They're still facing the problem of having empty National Guard bases within the next 10 years or so.



posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 01:31 PM
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Any possibility older aircraft will eventually be able to get the EODAS thrown in or is that exclusively for the F35 and future aircraft. Kinda off topic.



posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 01:35 PM
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a reply to: justwanttofly

I see raytheon has an upgrade for the f-18.
www.prnewswire.com...
But I'm guessing that can't be modified/shoehorned into an F-16. Is that about right ?

Oh bugger, that link isn't working
edit on 1-4-2015 by nelloh62 because: (no reason given)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Jan. 12, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- A successful flight test of the Raytheon-built APG-79(V)X AESA radar system has demonstrated the functions needed to extend the relevance of F/A-18C/D Hornet fighter/attack jets, including:

extended detection ranges
simultaneous air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities
production of high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) mapping
industry leading reliability
"We put our latest AESA radar capability to the test and it exceeded our expectations," said Mike "Ponch" Garcia, business development director of Tactical Airborne Systems for Raytheon's Space and Airborne Systems business, and a former F/A-18E/F Super Hornet pilot/instructor. "Our APG-79(V)X combines the best features of our AESA portfolio to ensure low risk and give F/A-18C/D a tactical advantage for the next 15 to 20 years."

The company has delivered more than 500 tactical AESA tactical radars from its portfolio that includes the APG-79, APG-63(V)3 and APG-82(V)1 for F-15, F/A-18E/F, EA-18G and B-2 aircraft. The APG-79 system, a U.S. Navy program of record, flies globally on F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers, and has seen service in four combat theaters since its first delivery in 2006.

"Raytheon fielded the world's first operational AESA radar for fighter aircraft in 2000," said Roy Azevedo, vice president for Raytheon's Space and Airborne Systems business. "Our portfolio of tactical AESA radars has now flown more than 500,000 operational hours – an industry first. We will continue to advance this technology to give our warfighters the greatest possible tactical advantage."

About Raytheon
Raytheon Company, with 2013 sales of $24 billion and 63,000 employees worldwide, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, security and civil markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 92 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as cyber security and a broad range of mission support services. Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, Mass. For more about Raytheon, visit us at www.raytheon.com and follow us on Twitter @Raytheon.

Media Contact
Theresa Huerta
saspr@raytheon.com

SOURCE Raytheon Company


edit on 1-4-2015 by nelloh62 because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 01:35 PM
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a reply to: BASSPLYR

Almost none. They don't have the power or cooling capacity. The F-35 can BARELY operate the systems it has. It's right at the limit of ITS ability to cool the electronics.



posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 01:41 PM
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a reply to: nelloh62

Here

If it fits, and it has the power to operate it, and the cooling capacity to cool it, there's no reason it couldn't. But the bigger the unit installed, the more it affects the aircraft around it, which could lead to fatigue problems later on.



posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 02:02 PM
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a reply to: nelloh62

It might be cheaper to take the radar out of a Block 60 or V model Viper instead of modding a radar designed for another platform. It would most likely also help alleviate airframe fatigue concerns that Zaph mentioned since it is ready made for Viper models already.



posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 02:05 PM
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a reply to: justwanttofly

Especially with the cracking problems they have already seen with the Vipers. A bigger AESA will just make that worse.



posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 08:54 PM
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We had the same problem with the Tigre here in Australia with overheating avionics.An updated AirCon system had to be installed to keep it all cool.



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