Northrop Grumman‘s [NOC] ALQ-131C electronic warfare (EW) suite for the Air Force F-16 fighter by Lockheed Martin

[LMT] has proven out in testing with the F-16’s new AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) by Northrop Grumman, the latter company said.

Such Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars include beyond line of sight, longer range air-to-air and air-to-ground targeting of multiple targets, such as air defense radars, cruise missiles, and surface to air missiles, and all-weather, high-resolution, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) ground mapping for improved strike.

Jim Jensen, a technical fellow at Northrop Grumman, said in a June 14 company statement that “the F-16 EW Suite has proven pulse-to-pulse interoperability with the APG-83 AESA radar.”

“Our goal was to maximize the performance of both of these critical radio frequency systems to provide enhanced survivability and lethality to the platform,” he said. “Our extensive testing confirms the success of this approach.”

James Conroy, vice president of navigation, targeting, and survivability for Northrop Grumman, said that the ALQ-131C helps overcome the highest radio frequency (RF) threat ever faced by U.S. and allied aircraft.

“The ALQ-131C is designed to detect and identify known, emerging and envisioned future threats in even dense, complex threat environments,” per Northrop Grumman. “The ALQ-131C’s high sensitivity digital receiver, high speed processors and Digital Radio Frequency Memory enable high fidelity digital signal generation. It is designed to defeat threat systems by applying the optimal coherent and/or non-coherent jamming technique. This level of protection enables the freedom of maneuver necessary to carry out the many missions of international operators.”

The open systems EW architecture “offers the bandwidth needed to detect and defeat the most sophisticated RF threats, including agile air defense systems,” the company said. “Shared across the company’s family of EW systems, which includes capabilities for fighters, airlifters and rotary wing aircraft, this pioneering technology can protect virtually any platform or mission.”

In January, Northrop Grumman said that the 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 Northrop Grumman beat out the L3Harris Technologies’ [LHX] Viper Shield EW system for equipping U.S. F-16s, L3Harris is pursuing foreign military sales for Viper Shield and anticipating that that system may one day go on U.S. F-16s as well.

While the Northrop Grumman EW suite beat out Viper Shield for equipping U.S. F-16s, L3Harris, like Northrop Grumman, sees a significant opportunity abroad.

In December 2019 the Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a contract potentially worth $1 billion for 372 of the APG-83 radars (Defense Daily, Oct. 15, 2020). The first jets receiving the radars were to be 72 Air National Guard 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 F-16 fighter, which first flew in 1974.