The F-16 Fighting Falcon’s original mission profile was to be the U.S. Air Force’s top air-to-air day fighter. Over its forty years of service, the F-16 has evolved into a multi-role, all-weather fighter aircraft.
The development of this fourth generation aircraft F-16 introduced many innovations. These included the first negative stability and fly-by-wire flight control system, a bubble, frameless canopy, side mounted control stick, and a pilot’s ejection seat that is reclined to thirty degrees. The pilot’s tilt-back seat and a strengthened airframe enabled the F-16 and its operator to be the first aircraft able to execute 9G turns.
What enables this air superiority day fighter to adapt to an all weather, multi-role fighter is the upgraded radar system. The F-16 was originally equipped with the AN/APG-66 fire control radar. This medium range pulse doppler radar had a range up to 150 km with four air-to-air and seven air-to-ground operating modes for combat, even at night or in poor weather conditions.Though the AN/APG-66 would experience multiple upgrades that increased its range, speed, and reliability, the F-16 would later be fitted with the AN/APG-68 fire control radar. Like the AN/APG-66, the AN/APG-68 is a pulse doppler radar. This evolution of the AN/APG-66 radar was first introduced to the F-16C/D Block 25. The AN/APG-68 provided the Fighting Falcon several capability improvements that transformed its mission profile from daytime air-to-air to a more versatile all weather, multi-role fighter aircraft.
7 Improvements the APG-68 Offered the F-16 Fighting Falcon
- Greater range – The AN/APG-68 engages targets at greater ranges, up to 184 miles, and with more accuracy than legacy radars.
- More reliability – The AN/APG-68 has a mean time between failure (MTBF) of more than 200 hours, reducing ownership costs.
- Compatibility with LANTIRN pods – The AN/APG-68 enabled the use of Low-Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) system, increasing combat effectiveness of the F-16 by enabling low altitude flying at night or under-the-weather.
- High-resolution mapping and target detection recognition – the look-down mode uses a medium doppler waveform and signal processing that improves target detection, even with heavy clutter.
- 25 operating modes – the additional operating modes include ground mapping, ground moving target mode, specialist ship mode for maritime operations, and track-while-scan of up to 10 targets simultaneously.
- Ground mapping – The AN/APG-68 has Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) capabilities, which enables high resolution ground mapping for the F-16 to become a day or night, all-weather, precision strike aircraft.
- Improved weapons systems – The AN/APG-68 enabled the F-16 to become even more formidable due to its compatibility with newer air-to-air and ground attack missiles, including Global Positioning System (GPS)-aided precision weapons.
Without operational radar systems, a pilot is essentially blind in a sky, especially in poor visibility and high ceilings. Take away the fire control radar and pilots are unable to detect or engage air and ground targets. It is essential that a fire control radar be dependable and effective in a combat environment and in less-than-ideal weather conditions.
The latest version of the AN/APG-68 is the version 9, or APG-68(V)9. It provides the Fighting Falcon with a 30% greater air-to-air detection range than its predecessor. It is equipped in several variants of the F-16D Block 50/52 for nations worldwide.
Backed by 34 years of industry experience and with AS9100C and ISO 9100 certifications, Duotech is a leading source in providing responsive repair and support for your APG-68 Fire Control Radar.