L3Harris [LHX] said on March 22 that it is looking for Foreign Military Sales (FMS) of the company’s Viper Shield advanced electronic warfare suite for Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-16 fighter aircraft.
In January, Northrop Grumman [NOC] said that the U.S. Air Force had picked the company to finish a new F-16 EW suite under an Other Transaction Authority (OTA) agreement for prototyping (Defense Daily, Jan. 11).
While the Northrop Grumman EW suite beat out Viper Shield for equipping U.S. F-16s, L3Harris sees a significant opportunity abroad.
On March 22, L3Harris said that Lockheed Martin had awarded L3Harris a contract to develop Viper Shield against emerging radar and other electronic threats.
“L3Harris designed Viper Shield™ to provide U.S. and global coalition partners with cutting-edge countermeasures against sophisticated, ever-changing threats,” per L3Harris. “The baseline version is integrated into the aircraft fuselage, saving space for additional capability such as a fuel pod that could be attached externally to increase mission range. Seamless integration with the F-16’s weapon systems, including the aircraft’s radar, enables Viper Shield to have broad application to Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Block 70/72 aircraft configurations. More than a dozen countries in the Middle East, Asia and Europe plan to fly the F-16 Block 70/72 variant.”
The Northrop Grumman EW suite for U.S. Air Force F-16s is to provide full-spectrum radar warning, threat identification and advanced countermeasures, and pulse-to-pulse operability with the F-16’s new AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR)” by Northrop Grumman.
In December 2019 the Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a contract potentially worth $1 billion for 372 of the radars (Defense Daily, Oct. 15, 2020). The first jets receiving the radars were to be 72 Air National Guard (ANG) F-16s in response to a Joint Emergent Operational Need from U.S. Northern Command in 2017 for homeland defense to provide better detect and track capability against Russian cruise missiles.
The SABR is to provide 5th generation radar features akin to those on the Lockheed Martin F-22 and F-35 for the legacy fighter, which first flew in 1974.
Such Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) features include beyond line of sight, longer range air-to-air and air-to-ground targeting of multiple targets, such as air defense radars and cruise/surface to air missiles, and all-weather, high-resolution, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) ground mapping for improved strike.
The EW suite for U.S. Air Force F-16s “leverages an open systems, ultra wideband architecture providing greater instantaneous bandwidth needed to defeat modern threats” and “shares a common technology baseline with the AC/MC-130J Radio Frequency Countermeasures Program and (Northrop Grumman) AN/APR-39 radar warning receivers,” Northrop Grumman said.