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416th FLTS working to upgrade F-16 radar

Photo of F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 416th Flight Test Squadron conducting in-flight testing of the APG-83A radar installed onboard one of the jets March 20. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher Okula)

Photo of F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 416th Flight Test Squadron conducting in-flight testing of the APG-83A radar installed onboard one of the jets March 20. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher Okula)

Maintenance personnel install mounting hardware for an APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar on a 416th Flight Test Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon in August 2015. The 416th FLTS has been conducting developmental testing on the fifth-generation Active Electronically Scanned Array fire control radar. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher Okula)

Maintenance personnel install mounting hardware for an APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar on a 416th Flight Test Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon in August 2015. The 416th FLTS has been conducting developmental testing on the fifth-generation Active Electronically Scanned Array fire control radar. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher Okula)

This F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 416th Flight Test Squadron served as a target for another F-16, which was testing the fifth-generation APG-83A radar March 20. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher Okula)

This F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 416th Flight Test Squadron served as a target for another F-16, which was testing the fifth-generation APG-83A radar March 20. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher Okula)

Two F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 416th Flight Test Squadron during a test sortie March 20. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher Okula)

Two F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 416th Flight Test Squadron during a test sortie March 20. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher Okula)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

The 416th Flight Test Squadron continually conducts developmental testing to enhance the warfighting capabilities of the F-16 Fighting Falcon. One focus of the F-16 testers here is the integration and testing of a new radar as part of the F-16 Radar Modernization Program.

According to its manufacturer, Northrop Grumman, the APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar is a fifth-generation radar that is an Active Electronically Scanned Array fire control radar. It is intended to replace currently used APG-66 and APG-68 radars and provide the F-16 with advanced capabilities similar to fifth-generation fighters like the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II. It also has the ability to operate in dense electronic environments, simultaneous multi-mode operations and enhanced system availability through increased reliability, maintainability and supportability.

The APG-83 is designed to be installed without making any major modifications to the jet.

“The APG-83 will be a form, fit and function modification that will operate within existing space, power and cooling capabilities of the platform,” said Lt. Col. Chris Keithley, 416th FLTS commander.

The APG-83 could satisfy a need for F-16 users to counter increasingly sophisticated and technological threats with increased bandwidth that would allow the F-16 to detect, track and identify greater numbers of targets faster, and at greater distances.

“With the modernization comes increased capabilities,” said Michael Powell, 416 FLTS, project lead. “It is a more modern and stable radar.”

Powell added the F-16 RMP at the 416th FLTS is ongoing with several ground and flight tests performed with the APG-83 in the past two years. Data collected will be used by the Air Force to determine if the radar can be implemented operationally in the future.

The F-16A first flew in December 1976 with the first operational F-16A delivered to the Air Force in January 1979.  Since then, improvements have led to the F-16C and F-16D, which are the current single- and two-seat versions. All active U.S. Air Force units and Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units have converted to the F-16C/D, according to the Air Force.

Since 9/11, the F-16 has been a major component of the combat forces committed to the War on Terrorism flying thousands of sorties.

The F-16 is also flown by several partner nations around the world.