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)

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.

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)

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.