Northrop Grumman has unveiled a new active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar it is developing with company funds to equip the Lockheed Martin F-16 and other aircraft.

The Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) will be demonstrated in Northrop's Sabreliner flying testbed later this year. The Sabreliner simulates the F-16's avionics.

Northrop has produced the APG-66 and APG-68 families of mechanically scanned radars that equip almost all F-16s, as well as the APG-80 agile beam radar that equips the United Arab Emirates' Block 60 F-16s.

Northrop SABR F-16 AESA
SABR is designed to fit without modifying the F-16    © Northrop Grumman

But the company faces competition from Raytheon to supply AESA radars to equip potential future versions of the Lockheed fighter as well as to retrofit the widely used F-16.

Raytheon has repackaged its APG-79 AESA, developed for the Boeing F/A-18E/F, as the RANGR, a next-generation radar sized to fit the F-16, Saab Gripen and Korea Aerospace Industries A/T-50.

India has specified an AESA radar for its medium multi-role combat aircraft requirement, for which Lockheed plans to offer an advance F-16 derivative. The company has yet to announce the selection of an AESA.

SABR, like RANGR, draws on AESA development for the USA's latest fighters. Northrop supplies the APG-77 for the F-22 and APG-81 for the F-35, both built by Lockheed, while Raytheon supplies the APG-79 for the F/A-18E/F and APG-63(V) for the F-15, both built by Boeing.