Thursday, February 23, 2012

Battle intensifies over radars for F-16 upgrade

Industry sources say it is fair to assume that Taiwan will echo South Korea in the type of AESA radar it chooses for its upgrade program

An imminent decision by the South Korean Air Force on the type of advanced radar system it will adopt for the upgrade of its 135 KF-16C/Ds will likely have a ripple effect in Taiwan as the latter mulls options for the upgrade of its 145 F-16A/Bs.

Up until recently, only one US defense firm, Raytheon Corp, had been cleared by the US government to export Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars, one of the main components in the US$5.8 billion arms package for Taiwan notified to US Congress in September last year.

However, the US Department of State last month gave Northrop Grumman Corp a permanent export license (DSP-5) for its own version of the AESA radar — known as the Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) — for the South Korean and Taiwanese bids.

Raytheon had obtained a DSP-5 for its Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR) in 2008, US-based Defense News reported earlier this month. The DSP-5 license is the first step in the foreign military sales process and allows for the release of unclassified technical information and data to a foreign country.

With this decision, Taipei will now be able to choose between the two manufacturers as it negotiates the acquisition of the 176 AESA radars included in the notification.

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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