NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.–Lockheed Martin [LMT] selected Northrop Grumman [NOC] and its Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) for the F-16 Combat Avionics Programmed Extension Suite (CAPES), an avionics modernization program designed to keep the Air Force’s F-16 fleet viable in future threat environments. 

As part of the deal with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman will also upgrade the radars for Taiwan’s F-16 fleet. Radar development and production activities for both the United States’ and Taiwan’s F-16 radar upgrade programs will run in parallel and demonstrate the benefits of interoperability and equipment commonality, according to a Northrop Grumman statement. Northrop Grumman also said the partnership with Lockheed Martin will help keep the U.S. F-16 fleet viable beyond 2025.

U.S. F-16   Photo: Air Force

Skip Wagner, director of international business development and strategy for Northrop Grumman’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and targeting systems division, said yesterday he believed the systems were to be delivered to Taiwan beginning in 2017. Wagner said Northrop Grumman is currently in the design review phase and anticipates delivering hardware and software and performing integration within one to two years. Wagner, who called hardware and software delivery key milestones, said Northrop Grumman will upgrade around 150 jets as part of the Taiwan deal. 

Wagner said Northrop Grumman has a system requirements review (SRR) that will take place by the end of the year before the company continues with “typical” developmental milestones of further design and software reviews, culminating with the eventual delivery of hardware and software. Wagner said he expects Northrop Grumman to work through design review milestones at a faster pace due to previous company investment.

Wagner said Northrop Grumman is very “comfortable and confident” in its radar relationship with Lockheed Martin, which he said goes back 36 years. 

“Since we’ve already integrated …and already flown on a Block 50 F-16, and because we’ve been doing this for 36 years with Lockheed Martin, this is not the first F-16 radar or the (first) fifth generation radar we’ve built with Lockheed Martin,” Wagner said yesterday at the Air Force Association’s (AFA) annual conference here. 

Northrop Grumman said its SABR active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar will contribute significantly to CAPES, which has program objectives of mitigating critical future capability gaps and modernize F-16s. Northrop Grumman also said its next-generation AESA radars are also flying on the F-16 Block 60, Lockheed Martin’s F-22 and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Wagner said in a company statement SABR includes modes ported directly from the F-35’s AN/APG-81 radar and that SABR has 95 percent re-use of fifth-generation AESA modes.