South Korea is expected to issue a request for proposals for an F-16 radar retrofit this week. It could be the first country to decide between the Northrop Grumman Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) and the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR). Taiwan will follow, and Singapore is another prospect, according to Larry Seeley, Raytheon’s APG-79 international capture manager.
But now that the U.S. Air Force has revealed its own plan for an F-16 radar retrofit, it’s possible that international customers could await its choice, Smeeley told AIN. Although the service recently outlined the F-16 upgrade to Congress, “I haven’t yet seen a budget line item,” Seeley cautioned. Raytheon is not the incumbent supplier of F-16 radars, but it has flight-tested the RACR on a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon.
The RACR has been designed as a drop-in fit for both the F-16 and F-18A/B/C/D Hornets. For the latter, the RACR antenna can be larger and the equipment racks are mounted on the aircraft’s two-rail slider, rather than the hard mount with gull-wing panel access that the F-16 provides.
In both designs the line replaceable units have 90 percent commonality with the Raytheon APG-79 AESA radar of the F-18E/F Super Hornet. Modes can be ported between the APG-79 and both versions of the RACR. Another key feature, according to Seeley, is that the upgrade involves changes only to the radar’s operational flight program, not to that of the airframe.
The U.S. Navy has not yet expressed interest in retrofitting its legacy Hornets with an AESA-like the RACR, but Raytheon sees export possibilities among the eight international F/A-18A-D countries, all of which have received presentations via their user group. Smeeley said a fit-check of the RACR has been done on a U.S. Marine Corps F-18C. The installation process took only 42 minutes, he added.