Raytheon is to reveal the results of flight tests with an active electronically scanned array radar developed as an upgrade for Lockheed Martin's F-16.

A first series of flights with the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR) were performed in July and August from Edwards AFB, California, the first time that the company-funded sensor had been airborne.

Developed as a modification for legacy F-16s, RACR is intended to challenge Northrop Grumman's monopoly as the radar supplier for the type.

Raytheon expects to brief US Air Force officials in mid-November about its analysis of the sensor's performance, says Ken Murphy, F-16 capture manager for RACR. Some information will be released publicly later this year.

Murphy declines to outline the campaign's key achievements ahead of the meeting, but confirms that the sensor was used in multiple air-to-air and air-to-ground operating modes. "We demonstrated what we wanted to demonstrate," he says.

Northrop has also tested its own AESA development, the Scaleable Agile Beam Radar, with the same F-16 at Edwards.

The companies are pursuing a possible requirement to upgrade some of the USAF's F-16s with active radar arrays. However, the service as yet has no programme of record to launch a competition.

 F-16 refuel - USAF
© Tech Sgt Kevin Wallace/US Air Force

"We've done this work on internal funding to get a bedrock set of capabilities while we wait for firm customer requirements to finalise," Murphy says.

A lucrative market also exists with international F-16 operators. Northrop and Raytheon have secured approvals to seek marketing licences, and provided the USAF with pricing and availability data for at least one nation.

RACR features around 90% commonality with Raytheon's APG-79 AESA installed on the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and APG-82(V)1 for the F-15E. Scaled versions of the technology could also potentially be retrofitted to larger USAF types, such as its Boeing B-1B and B-52 bombers, the company believes.

Source: Flight International