F-16 Fighting Falcon News

Raytheon offers AESA radar for F-16

July 14, 2008 (by Asif Shamim) - Raytheon Co. announced at the Farnborough airshow the news about there latest AESA radar known as the advanced combat radar (RACR, "racer").

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The new radar is aimed at squarely at the retrofit market, for the F-16, F/A-18 and for installation in new-build fighters.

RACR draws heavily on Raytheon's previous experience in building AESA (active electronically scanned antenna) radars for the F-15 Eagle (APG-63(V)2/3/4) and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (APG-79). The new radar uses technology & components from those existing programs.

Raytheon original proposed the RANGR (Raytheon advanced next-generation radar) for use with the F-16. This scalable radar has a downside, it requires its own power source and cooling system which would impact the existing airframe adding to the overall cost.

The RACR provided the same capability but its advantage is that it uses the existing power and cooling systems provisioned in the airframe making this radar more cost effective.

With the costs reduced it makes this model an attractive upgrade for air forces requiring newer radars, rather than forking out larger sums of money for new aircraft. It can be said that your giving a forth generation aircraft, fifth generation capabilities.

Additionally the RACR allows the aircraft to network in and share data over a high speed link. "The antenna becomes a node in the network. It can share data in a high-speed way, sending SAR maps in a few milliseconds. We have demonstrated a rate of 274 Mb per second. When you combine the antenna with an advanced RWR system like the ALR-69, you get a dramatic increase in capability", said Mike Henchey, Raytheon's director of strategy and business development, tactical airborne systems.

Raytheon is trying to break the hold in this market by its rival radar maker Northrop Grumman. Currently the RACR is fit checked in an F-16. In due course the company plan to fly a working example in a testbed aircraft.