Sunday, May 18, 2014

South Korea to upgrade all of its F-16s

(Seoul) Last week, BAEs Systems received a $750 million firm-fixed-price contract, covering the upgrades of South Korea's 134 KF-16 aircraft.

The upgrades will consist of:
  • New radars to replace the existing APG-68v5/v7 systems
  • Modern avionics and computers
  • Upgrades of the planes’ cabling and databuses to the latest standard
The most interesting bit for me will be the replacement of the old mechanical radar for the latest digital one.
Active Electronically Scanned Array radars offer dramatic increases in fighter performance, and an equally dramatic drop in maintenance costs, thanks to their large array of independently excitable and steerable transmit/receive modules. Advantages over mechanical phased array radars like the KF-16s’ APG-68 include 2x-3x range or performance, simultaneous ground and air scans, and near-zero maintenance over the fighter’s lifetime. More advanced functions like high speed communications, and even focused electronic disruption of enemy radars, also become possible.
Combined with the upgrade in cabling and modern computers, the South Korean upgrade will make them a force to be reckoned with for a good number of years into the future. If they follow suit with an upgrade for their F-15Ks, then they will be the primary air power in their region.