F-16'lar için AESA Radar

ABD'li Raytheon firması, F-16 savaş uçakları için AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) prensibi ile çalışan ve RACR (Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar) adı verilen radar sisteminin denemelerine başlamış.

RACR radarı, aynı firmanın, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet savaş uçaklarından kullanılan AN/APG-79 AESA radarı esas alınarak geliştirilmiş.

Firma radar, halen hizmetteki en modern taktik savaş uçaklarından olan ve Birleşik Arap Emirlikleri'nin kullandığı F-16 Block 60 Desert Falcon'un kullandığı, Northrop Grumman üretimi AN/APG-80 AESA radarından, nesil bazında daha gelişmiş olduğunu iddia ediyor. Aynı Raytheon gibi, Northrop Grumman da bu radarı geliştirerek F-16 ve muadili taktik savaş uçakları için SABR (Scalable Agile Beam Radar) radarını geliştirmekte.

Raytheon RACR ve Northrop Grumman SABR radarları ile özellikle F-16 ve F/A-18C kullanıcılarının modernizasyon ihtiyaçlarını hedef almaktalar.

Date Posted: 20-Oct-2009

International Defence Review

Raytheon advances F-16 integration testing of new AESA radar

Gareth Jennings

Raytheon is currently undertaking the second integration testing phase of its AN/APG-79 active electronically scanned array (AESA)-derived radar upgrade for the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, a company spokesperson told Jane's on 19 October.

Dave Goold, Director Business Development, Tactical Airborne Systems for Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems division, said that work on the second integration testing phase of the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR) started on 12 October and is set to run until 26 October.

According to Goold, the company is using this testing phase "to develop the radar software modes that we feel the customers are going to be asking for". The work is being carried out at the Lockheed Martin Systems Integration Laboratory (SIL) in Fort Worth, Texas.

The first series of software integration tests, which were performed at SIL in 2008, focused on ensuring that the RACR (which has been adapted and scaled from AN/APG-79 as fitted to the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler) could integrate with the F-16's mission computer and software, as well as demonstrating the air-to-air and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) modes that are possible with the radar. Goold said the company did this "seamlessly".

Flight-testing of the production-representative hardware (which has about 90 per cent commonality with the AN/APG-79) is set to begin in the first half of 2010, at a location in the United States that will be determined according to aircraft availability.

According to Goold, the biggest difference between the RACR and other F-16 AESA options in development - such as the Northrop Grumman Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) - is that the production-representative hardware for the RACR is already available and has been approved for export by the US government.

Referring to the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-80 AESA fitted to the United Arab Emirates F-16 Block 60 aircraft, Goold said "the difference between [the] APG-80 and RACR is generational". The AN/APG-80 utilises an older brick-based array that is larger, heavier and requires more cooling than the tile-array of the RACR. The RACR is designed to be fully compatible with a host aircraft's power and cooling systems.

Additionally, the AN/APG-80 is a Block 60-specific solution and not suitable for the Block 52 aircraft currently rolling off the production line, or the thousands of older aircraft which might be retrofitted with an AESA.

A further advantage of the RACR is that it is a flight-line replaceable system. To this end, Raytheon has twice demonstrated installing the systems on the flight line. During one of these demonstrations, the company did a fit-check on an F-16 at Edwards Air Force Base where it installed the necessary hardware in under an hour.

Raytheon has identified a global market of approximately 2,000 aircraft that could benefit from a RACR retrofit. To date, the company has received "firm interest" from the US Air Force (USAF), said Goold, and the US government has given classified briefings on the system to both Greece and South Korea.

Goold said that the USAF interest is dependent on the outcome of the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review, but added that the company has briefed the service "and can meet any schedule they might have for the introduction of the RACR onto their F-16s".

He added that there has also been interest shown in the RACR from domestic and international customers of the baseline F/A-18 aircraft. Operators such as the US Navy, US Marine Corps, Finland and Switzerland will be using these aircraft out to beyond 2020 and Raytheon feels that the RACR could help address any obsolescence issues that these legacy platforms might encounter.

Raytheon can meet the delivery time for a new-build F-16 Block 52 aircraft based on the lead time required to build a new fighter. For a retrofit, the company can install a RACR into an F-16 based on the notional lead time needed to build the radar hardware. "We can meet any schedule that a customer puts down for the delivery of retrofit aircraft", Goold said.

The RACR has not yet received an 'AN/APG' designation from the USAF. However, as the air force allocates such designations sequentially it is likely that RACR's will follow on from the latest AN/APG-82 for the USAF's Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle.

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