Raytheon eyes Korean F-16 radar upgrades

Dec. 1, 2011 at 6:18 AM
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SEOUL, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Raytheon is offering its advanced combat radar system to South Korea as the air force opens its competition for radar upgrades to its F-16 aircraft.

The RACR employs active electronically scanned array technology, a statement from Raytheon said. The system is the same AESA radar that Raytheon pioneered for the U.S. Air Force's F-15C and fielded in December 2000.

The package is "specifically suited for smaller aircraft such as the F-16," Raytheon said. South Korea has more than 160 of the fighters.

AESA radars allow pilots to acquire targets at much greater distances and track many more targets simultaneously than traditional mechanically scanned array systems.

"Raytheon AESA radars are the only combat-proven AESA radars currently in production," Mark Kula, vice president of Raytheon's Tactical Airborne Systems, said. "They've logged more operational flight-hours and have the largest installed customer base of any AESA system in the world."

Two key advantages of Raytheon's AESA technology is the ability to conduct simultaneous air-to-air and air-to-ground missions and its low maintenance costs, he said.

"Based on 250,000 operational flights hours, we know that Raytheon AESA radars require roughly 1-10th the maintenance expenditures that traditional mechanical arrays require," said Jim Hvizd, vice president of International Strategy and Business Development for Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems.

"We will work closely with the Republic of Korea to make sure our RACR solution best meets their combat radar upgrade needs, within cost and schedule requirements."

Raytheon's decision to compete for the F-16 upgrade comes after October's Korean Air Show in Seoul where the company presented its latest simulator for Boeing's F-15 Silent Eagle and incorporating AESA radar.

At a preview showing, around 30 media, business and defense trade reporters attended a briefing with Boeing and Raytheon executives.

"The Silent Eagle delivers the best solution available today to meet the Korean FX-III requirement," said Howard Berry, vice president of Sales for Boeing Defense, Space and Security. "The aircraft combines a host of new avionics systems including the AESA radar, digital electronic warfare suite and advanced cockpit technologies which set the platform apart."

Boeing and Lockheed Martin are in a what some South Korean air force officials say is a two-horse race to win the 60 fighter aircraft FX-III project. Boeing is offering its F-15 Silent Eagle and Lockheed Martin is offering its F-35A Lightning II.

South Korea previously purchased 60 of the earlier F-15 variant F-15K Slam Eagle from Boeing, which won both of the FX-I in 2002 and FX- II projects in 2008.

The F-15K is powered by General Electric F110-GE-129 engines. The aircraft has BAE Systems IEWS ALR-56C(V)1 radar warner, BAE Systems IDS ALE-47 countermeasures dispenser system and Northrop Grumman ALQ-135M radar jammer.

Lockheed Martin provides the Tiger Eyes with targeting pod, navigation pod and long-range infrared search-and track. Raytheon supplies the AN/APG-63(V)1 multi-mode radar.

Feathers of U.S. defense officials in Washington were ruffled this year when South Korea was suspected of unauthorized dismantling of the Tiger Eyes in August and September, The Hankyoreh news Web site said in November.

South Korean air force officials said this year that they want an indigenous fighter aircraft development and production facility within a decade.

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