Upgrade of Taiwan’s F-16s with APG-83 SABR Begins, while Raytheon’s RACR Looks Down for the Count

by C. Zachary Hofer, Electronic Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

F-16 over Iraq in 2008.   Photo – United States Air Force (via wikipedia)

Sources in Taiwan report that the first four of the Air Force’s F-16A/Bs that will undergo an upgrade arrived at a plant in Taichung on January 16.  The aircraft will be upgraded and overhauled to the F-16V configuration.  As part of the estimated $3.47 billion upgrade, the F-16 fighters will be equipped with Northrop Grumman’s APG-83 SABR active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

The APG-83 SABR, or Scalable Agile Beam Radar, is part of a new generation of AESA radars developed for retrofit to older fighter jets, replacing less reliable, lower definition, and more power-hungry mechanically scanned array radars.  Over the past several years, the SABR has duked it out with Raytheon’s APG-84 RACR – Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar – to win the title of dominant AESA radar retrofit for the F-16 market.  With the cancellation of all known RACR contracts and launch of the large-scale Taiwanese SABR program, it now looks as if the Raytheon radar may be down for the count.

More than 144 APG-83 SABR radars are expected to be delivered to Taiwan to satisfy the requirements of its F-16 conversion program.  Contract work is projected to stretch into the mid-2020s.

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