Raytheon expects one of the world's major Lockheed Martin F-16 operators to make a decision about its choice of active electronic scanned array (AESA) radars in the coming months.

The US Air Force, Taiwan and South Korea are all in the "active acquisition stage" of choosing between the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR) and Northrop Grumman's Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR), says Jim Hvizd, Raytheon's vice-president of international strategy and business development.

"In the coming months, we'll see some significant decisions regarding AESA," says Hvizd, speaking with Flightglobal at Raytheon's Farnborough chalet.

Hvizd declined to comment further on which country he feels will be the first mover.

An industry source familiar with the global F-16 upgrade market, however, tells Flightglobal that the first mover is likely to be Seoul.

It has been nearly one year since Seoul's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) issued a request for proposals to Raytheon and Northrop with regard to AESA upgrades for 132 F-16s.

The RFP called on both bidders to offer a full suite of AESA radar modes, including the interleaving of air-to-air tracking and air-to-ground mapping. More advanced capabilities, such as electronic attack and electronic protection, could be added by South Korea in the future.

A key requirement for South Korea is an offset package worth 50% of the value of the contract. After the RFP, Raytheon says it would transfer some hardware production to the nation.

Hvizd reaffirmed this commitment at Farnborough. "A big percentage of our products can be made overseas. We are always looking for global suppliers."

And although rival Northrop was the provider of the mechanically scanned radars that have traditionally equipped the F-16, Hvizd feels this is a non-issue for Raytheon's RACR campaign.

Hvizd notes that Raytheon has successfully retro-fitted AESA radars in older fighter types such as the C and E variants of the Boeing F-15 operated by the USAF.

Source: Flight Daily News