Last month, it was announced that the US Air Force, together with Northrop Grumman, completed a major upgrade of 72 US National Guard F-16C Viper fighters, receiving new powerful AN/APG-83 Scable Agile Beam Radar (SABR). In addition, hundreds of F-16 aircraft of the US Air Force and other countries are waiting for such an update.
At the same time, War Zone managed to talk to Mark Rossi from Northrop Grumman, the company's director of the SABR program (the creation of the AN/APG-83 radar) about what these radars are capable of and what their future holds.
During the development of the radar, the company used its previous experience with the advanced AN/APG-77 and AN/APG-81 radars for the F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters, so the code of the AN/APG-83 radar is approximately 95% "block similar" to the code that the AN/APG-77 runs on. Which "brings the F-16 as close as possible to the F-35's performance given the aircraft's limitations", as Rossi notes.
Compared to mechanically scanned radars, the new AN/APG-83 will greatly enhance the capabilities of the F-16 fighter, offering advantages in target acquisition speed, range at which potential targets can be detected, and tracking accuracy, even for small objects.
They are also more reliable as they don't require complex mechanical control devices, so they have "longer uptime".
At the same time, the increased power and accuracy of the new AN / APG-83 radar improve its SAR mapping capabilities. This allows it to produce high-resolution images for target detection and identification, as well as for reconnaissance.
Rossi confirmed that there’s built-in electronic protection and attack capabilities in the radar (the potential for non-kinetic attacks using highly focused beams of electromagnetic energy to disrupt or even damage the electronics of enemy aircraft, missiles and other systems).
After all, the new radar will be effective against cruise missiles, whereas the old one had almost "zero capability" against these weapons. All these measures make the AN/APG-83 ideal for strengthening the F-16 fighter.