September 9, 1999 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems was awarded a contract worth $9. 1 million on Aug. 30 for engineering and manufacturing development of an air-to-air interrogator capability on U.S. Air Force F-16s.
This capability will be retrofit on approximately 251 Block 50/52 USAF F-16C/Ds as part of the F-16 Common Configuration Implementation Program.
An air-to-air interrogator capability allows a pilot to distinguish between friendly aircraft and others. This provides the pilot greater tactical situation awareness, helps in target identification in beyond-visual- range intercepts and reduces dependence on airborne warning and control aircraft and ground-based radars.
To date, USAF F-16s have achieved four air-to-air kills in campaigns over Iraq
and the Balkans using the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile, and an air-to-air interrogator will enhance the F-16's capabilities in employing this beyond-visual-range weapon.
Such an interrogation capability already exists on Air National Guard F-16A/Bs used in the continental U.S. air defense role and on F-16s in many foreign countries. Lockheed Martin has selected the Marconi Aerospace Systems AN/APX-113 Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (AIFF) for the USAF application. This combined interrogator/transponder will replace the AN/APX-101 transponder currently in use on the USAF F-16C/D fleet.
Versions of the APX-113 are installed in F-16s operated by Belgium
, the Netherlands
The recent contract is for the integration development and testing effort. Flight testing will be conducted at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., starting in June 2001. Contract start for retrofit kit production is expected in March 2000, and first fielding of the system in USAF operational units is targeted for July 2002.