Northrop Pitches SABR for Legacy F-16s

Northrop Grumman has begun development of new advanced electronically scanned array radar for the F-16 fleet that the company believes will help keep the fighter’s edge until the end of their planned service lives. The Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) offers multiple simultaneous air-to-air targeting and ground and sea targeting. And, the full performance AESA will fit all F-16 radomes, said Dave Wallace, Northrop’s manager of F-16 Sensor Program Development. Wallace told reporters at AFA’s Air & Space Conference Monday that the company anticipates at least 1,000 F-16s will still be flying in 10 years, either with USAF or partner nations that have purchased the fighter, so the capability of an AESA radar would greatly enhance the fighters as a way to bridge the gap to the arrival of the F-35 fifth-generation fighter. The company has used its own research and development funds for SABR and expects to have it airborne by November aboard a Sabreliner business jet test bed. Wallace said the goal is to fly the radar on an F-16 sometime in 2009. Speaking with the Daily Report after his presentation, Wallace said neither the Air Force nor any other nation has committed to the program but that he believes SABR will complement USAF force structure as it continues to fly legacy fighter aircraft for some years to come, particularly for missions such as homeland defense. He said the addition of SABR would make the F-16 a more competent gap filler until to the arrival of the F-35.