Guard Calls for More Upgraded Radars on F-16s

A DC Air National Guard F-16 waits, ready for flight at Eielson AFB, on May 12, 2015, during Red Flag-Alaska 15-2. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Nathan Wallin.

The Air Force and Congress should look at extending the plan to install new radars in F-16s—beyond those specifically tasked with protecting the homeland—to improve the capability of the whole Viper fleet and create consistency across the Total Force, the head of the National Guard said Tuesday.

The Air Force plans to install AN/APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array Radars in 72 Guard F-16s that are specifically focused on the homeland defense mission.

The requirement stems from a 2015 urgent need request. National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Joseph Lengyel told the House Appropriations defense subcommittee that installing the radar in just 72 aircraft, and leaving another 261 Guard jets without the radar, “does create a problem for us” because there will be different systems across the Air National Guard and even within squadrons.

“It makes logistics more difficult,” Lengyel said. “It’s important that we consider, should funds become available, consider modifying more than 72,” he said, adding more radars would “make it a more capable platform.”

Lengyel estimated it would cost $110 million per year to upgrade 50 airplanes per year, for a total of about $600 million to upgrade the rest of the fleet.