Raytheon is confident that an upgrade architecture developed for South Korea’s Lockheed Martin F-16 upgrade programme will prove to be a winner in international upgrade programmes for the popular fighter.

Speaking with Flight Daily News at the Raytheon stand, the company’s vice-president of international strategy and business development for space and airborne systems, Jim Hvizd, expresses high hopes for an avionics upgrade that includes the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR) and a comprehensive avionics upgrade provided by BAE Systems.

“This architecture plays well for other markets,” says Hvizd. He adds that the BAE upgrade has done a good job integrating RACR with an all-new electronic warfare, self-protection suite and mission computer.

He goes as far as to claim that an upgrade offer encompassing both BAE and the RACR is “orders of magnitude cheaper” than the rival F-16 avionics and radar upgrade offering provided by Lockheed Martin, which includes RACR’s rival, Northrop Grumman’s Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR).

To get BAE’s perspective on fighter upgrades, Flight Daily News spoke with John Bean, the company’s vice president of global fighter programmes.

Bean, who spent most of his career with Lockheed working on the F-16 programme, believes that the fighter market is at an inflection point. Traditionally air forces were obliged to work with the OEM for fighter sustainment, but he contends that OEMs are more geared to manufacturing aircraft, rather than providing long-term support.

This view of conditions in the upgrade market prompted BAE to substantially increase its fighter upgrade capabilities in recent years.

“Customers are nervous because they can’t afford to buy new aircraft,” says Bean. “There are concerns in the market that OEMs may be [moving away from legacy types]. The real question for customers is ‘who can you count on?’.

Source: FlightGlobal.com