AN/APG-83 RADAR that gives F-16v Block 70/72 Super Viper edge over other 4th generation fighters Jets
Not many may be aware that F-16v Block 70/72 Super Viper has been fitted with a state-of-the-art AESA fire control radar APG-83. It has a detection range of 120 km and an engagement range of 84 km. It can simultaneously track more than 20 targets. It integrates within the aircraft’s current structural, power and cooling systems. Many people understand the capabilities of the radar only from range. But that is not the be-all and end all of the radar.
The capabilities of this AESA radar AN/APG-83 RADAR are derived from 5th generation fighter AESA radars i.e. APG-77 of F-22 and APG-81 of F-35. Moreover, bvr capabilities of the F-16 Super Viper with this radar have to be viewed from the fact that this aircraft has a clean RCS of only 1m square. F-16 is a planform in construction plus painted with Radar Absorbing Material.
Japan Self Defence Force (JSDF-Mitsubishi had built a technology demonstrator from F-16) that developed this radar calls it Viper Zero, which you can understand as giving Viper zero probability of getting detected or RCS approaching Zero.
The selection of this radar makes this fighter better in air-to-air combat than even Su-35 that China has and Pakistan is itching to acquire. Su-35 has a PESA radar and Russia has no plans to upgrade it to AESA anytime soon.
There have been only 60 Su-35s produced whereas there have been more than 4500 F-16s produced so far. That is for a reason. PESA radar of Su-35 can only emit a single beam of radio waves and track fewer aerial targets whereas APG-83 can radiate multiple beams.
Moreover, AN/APG-83 RADAR can send its signal emissions across a wider range of frequencies which makes F-16 difficult to be detected over background noise.
Somebody was asking me that can APG-83 be fitted over F-18E/F Super Hornet. The answer is ‘Nope’. The diameter of the radar dome of F-16 is 660mm and the diameter of the radar dome of F-18 is 700mm. So, APG-83 is customized for only F-16.
SABR (Scalable Agile Beam Radar) as the radar is called has greater bandwidth, speed, the agility of the radar which gives the pilot 5th generation fighter radar capabilities to counter and defeat increasingly sophisticated threats. The qualities of this radar include :
– Big SAR wide-area high-resolution maps
-High-quality coordinate generation
-Faster search and target acquisition
-Smaller target detection
-Robust electronic protection ( Air to Air and Air to Ground)
– Enhanced Combat ID
– Interleaved mode operations for greater situational awareness
– Maritime modes
– 3-5x greater reliability and availability.
( Information gathered from manufacturer Northrop Grumman and various other sources).
Note: We are doing a cover story on the utility of F-16 vis-a-vis India later in the evening today. So stay tuned.