Radar upgrades and re-engining programmes for US Air Force strike and attack fighter fleets have been inserted into the next five-year spending plan starting in 2006.

The 224-aircraft fleet of Boeing F-15E Strike Eagles will be upgraded with the Raytheon APG-63(V)3 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, which saves 400kg (900lb) and improves reliability, says Boeing. Not funded is an identical upgrade for about 180 F-15Cs. Eighteen F-15Cs are now equipped with the APG-63(V)2 AESA, but there are has no plans to expand the upgrade to the entire fleet until at least 2011. As a "hedge", the service will integrate an APG-63(V)3 radar on one F-15C during the next five years.

Lockheed Martin expects further upgrades to US Air Force F-16C/Ds after completion of the ongoing common configuration implementation programme, which is standardising and updating Block 40 and Block 50 aircraft. Last month, Northrop Grumman received a two-year, $22 million contract to engineer a kit to upgrade USAF F-16s with the latest APG-68(V)9 radar being fitted to export aircraft. Plans call for 280 C/Ds to receive the new radar, which increases detection range by 33% and adds synthetic-aperture radar ground imaging. The USAF has also approved funding to re-engine its Fairchild A/OA-10 Thunderbolt IIs with upgraded GE TF-34 turbofans.


Source: Flight International