NORAD Requests F-16 AESA

US Northern Command issued an exigent request for F-16 active electronically scanned array radars to equip alert fighters defending the homeland. “I actually submitted that urgent need today,” NORAD-NORTHCOM Commander Adm. Bill Gortney said in an April 7 Pentagon briefing. “We have some boxes, we have the airplanes, and we should be able to marry them up,” he added. District of Columbia Air National Guard alert F-16s, tasked with defending the National Capital Region at JB Andrews, Md., are slated for the first AESA upgrades, Gortney said. The radars are “only a single piece” of integrated air and missile defense, though, he said. NORAD recently fielded the first set of radar-equipped aerostats near Washington, D.C., and is working to network them with Aegis ships off the coast to “track and share data,” he noted. “It’s having a little bit of difficulty right now early in its test phase … but it’s not something I think that is insurmountable.” Tying in with Aegis will allow threats to be detected and engaged further out so “then you’re … dealing with fewer missiles as they come at you,” said Gortney.