Raytheon’s RACR low-cost AESA upgrade radar for tactical aircraft is now ready for installation in the F-16 Fighting Falcon and awaiting its first order. The sensor draws on the technology used in Raytheon’s latest fighter radars, the APG-63 AESA versions in the F-15 Eagle and APG-79 in newer F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.
RACR is a scaleable radar primarily aimed at new-build or upgraded F-16s, but is also applicable to other combat aircraft such as “legacy” F/A-18 models. The radar has been developed to use existing power and cooling supplies, and to be installed without any major airframe modifications. F-16 integration testing began at Lockheed Martin’s system integration laboratory at Fort Worth last November.
Raytheon is keen to stress the reliability offered by AESA over traditional models. Maintenance data is only just becoming available for the Super Hornet fleet, but early indications show a dramatic increase in reliability for the APG-79 over the mechanically scanned APG-73 radar. Raytheon suggests that the acquisition costs of the RACR could easily be clawed back through greatly reduced maintenance, saving the customer money in the long run while dramatically improving radar capability.