The Air National Guard is “ready to go” on upgrading its Aerospace Control Alert F-16 fleet with new active electronically scanned array radars and enhancements to improve homeland defense, ANG boss Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke said on Tuesday. “The upgrades that we need are important for surveillance and the ability to detect targets and threats to the homeland. … It’s a deficit and we need to address this,” Clarke told members of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel. Industry has already completed research and development on several radar options and “we’ve already tested some of this equipment out at our test center in Tucson, [Ariz.],” he said. “We think that it’s a perfect match with current capabilities,” he said. “There are several vendors out there,” including Northrop Grumman’s Scalable Agile Beam Radar retrofit to Taiwanese F-16s as well as Raytheon’s Advanced Combat Radar, added Clarke. The Air Force canceled its planned comprehensive F-16 avionics upgrade that would have included AESA radar due to Fiscal 2015 budget pressures.
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.