U.S. Air Force Authorises Extended Life For F-16

Photo: @ U.S. Air Force

The F-16 Falcon will live to fight another day, or at least another 4,000 hours, according to the US Air Force and Lockheed Martin.

The USAF authorized extending the F-16’s service life from its original 8,000 flight hours to 12,000 flight hours, a 12 April Lockheed release states. After performing SLEP modifications, the service will be able to operate the Block 40 through 52 aircraft beyond 2048, according to Lockheed. The authorization marks a milestone within the USAF’s seven-year SLEP, according to Susan Ouzts, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 programme.

“Combined with F-16 avionics modernization programmes like the F-16V, SLEP modifications demonstrate that the Fighting Falcon remains a highly capable and affordable fourth-generation option for the US Air Force and international F-16 customers.”

Lockheed unveiled its F-16V modernization plan at the 2016 Farnborough air show. The upgrade to existing Falcons leverages technology from Lockheed’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, such as Northrop Grumman’s APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar. The programme could also integrate additional capabilities down the road, including auto ground collision avoidance and a joint helmet-mounted cueing system.

Three international customers are participating in the F-16V upgrade, including Taiwan, which had plans to participate in a joint upgrade effort with the US known as combat avionics programmed extension suite (CAPES). In 2015, the USAF abandoned CAPES, but kept funding for mission and display computer replacements.

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Lockheed plans to extend the service life of 300 F-16C/D Block 40 through 52 aircraft. Meanwhile, the company is pursuing a part two of the SLEP that would allow further life extension based on final service life analysis from extended durability testing, Lockheed states.

Source: flightglobal.com

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