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We have investigated the modal behavior of two-dimensional (up to 400 elements) active-photonic-lattice-based antiguided vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) arrays by both modeling and device characterization. A two-dimensional (2-D) model based on the effective index method has been constructed to analyze 2-D resonance and calculate array mode frequencies in rectangular geometry arrays. A more comprehensive three-dimensional bi-directional beam propagation code has also been developed to theoretically describe 2-D antiguided arrays with the VCSEL structure in the primary wave propagation direction. Gain spatial hole burning (GSHB) effects above laser threshold are applied to find conditions favorable for in-phase mode lasing and high intermodal discrimination. Three rectangular geometry array structures based on different interelement loss mechanisms have been designed and fabricated. Both far-field and spectral characterization were conducted on the devices to make detailed comparison with theoretical results. We found that introducing higher loss within the interelement region can allow the in-phase mode to exhibit the lowest threshold gain for a wide range of interelement widths around the in-phase resonance condition. A detailed spectral study of 5×5 arrays with the highest interelement loss design has demonstrated suppression of competing guided array modes and higher order leaky array modes at drive currents up to 10 times threshold.