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A Duck-Nosed Aircraft Tested Upgraded Warfare Systems for F-16 Fighters

Combining an advanced beam radar with next-gen electronic warfare systems.

For all those who are bored of the 'ugly duckling' story, here is an engineering equivalent that you can tell others the next time, with the same morals.

The defense manufacturer, Northrop Grumman has two Bombardier CRJ700 aircraft that do not look like regular airplanes, even the other CRJ700s. The aircraft raise eyebrows everywhere they go, but underneath the not-so-pleasing exterior, there is the testing apparatus for the Next Generation Electronic Warfare (NGEW) for modern fighter aircraft, according to a company press release. 

The two aircraft, with US civil registration codes N804X and N805X, were developed over a decade ago and have been working as surrogate platforms for testing systems and weapons that Northrop Grumman has developed over the years, The Drive reported

Recently, they served as testbeds for the NGEW and AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) and even demonstrated their interoperability in a realistic environment. During the exercise, the Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center generated a high-density radio frequency environment simulating the near-peer electromagnetic spectrum environments. 

The APG-83 SABR enables the F-16 to detect, track and identify a large number of targets. It also features all-weather, high-resolution synthetic aperture radar mapping that provides a large surface image to pilots allowing for precise target identification and strike capabilities. The NGEW uses open-system, ultra-wideband architecture to counter modern threats.

During the exercise, both the systems demonstrated full pulse-to-pulse and multi-function interoperability. The SABR engaged multiple air and ground targets successfully, while the NGEW identified advanced threats and defeated them by deploying advanced jamming techniques. Once flight certified, F-16s will be equipped with an NGEW system, beginning next summer. 

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James Conroy, vice president, navigation, targeting, and survivability at Northrop Grumman said, “With the radio frequency (RF) spectrum becoming increasingly contested, this critical set of capabilities will support the F-16 for many years to come.”

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