UAE sends F-16s to Jordan for ISIS hunt

UAE Desert Falcon block 60 F-16, loaded w PGMs

7feb15–Today the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced it will send a squadron of its F-16 E/F models to Jordan to help in the fight against ISIS, according to a piece by ABC News. This is interesting in a couple of ways.

First, UAE was previously participating in Operation Inherent Resolve, until Moaz al-Kasasbeh was shot down on 24 Dec (apparently that shook their own inherent resolve).  But, after Kasasbeh’s murder, and the firm response by Jordan, the UAE is back with a bullet. And sending jets to be based in Jordan certainly makes a statement of solidarity.

Second, the F-16s in UAE’s inventory are the very capable Block 60 aircraft. The block 60 Desert Falcon are actually more advanced than even USAF F-16s, with better radars and avionics. The UAE block 60s bring excellent PGM-delivery capability with them, assuming that offensive strike will be their mission.

You can see an excellent description of the Block 60’s capabilities, in a detailed article from Defense Industry Daily.  Here’s an excerpt…

The Desert Falcons’ most significant changes are electronic. Northrop Grumman’s AN/APG-80 AESA radar is the most significant advance, and made the UAE the first fighter force in the world to field this revolutionary new radar technology outside of the USA. Compared to mechanically-scanned arrays like the AN/APG-68v9s that equip advanced American and foreign F-16s, AESA radars like the APG-80 have more power, better range, less sidelobe “leakage,” near-100% combat availability, and more potential add-on capabilities via software improvements. Unlike the APG-68s, the APG-80 can perform simultaneous ground and air scan, track, and targeting, and it adds an “agile beam” that reduces the odds of detection by opposing aircraft when the radar is on. 

This last feature is important. Seeing the enemy first remains every bit as significant as it was in Boelcke’s day, but the inverse square law for propagation means that turning on older radar design is like activating a flashlight in a large and dark building. It can be seen much farther away than it can illuminate. An agile-beam AESA radar largely negates that disadvantage, while illuminating enemies who may not have their own radars on.

And, of course, don’t miss this slick video (there’s always a slick video)…




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