USAF spells out F-16 upgrade program–sticks with Lockheed as prime

The US Air Force has spelled out its plans to upgrade 300 of its newest Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters. The USAF considers the upgrade program a stopgap measure resulting from delays to the stealthy Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

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f16cockpit.jpgNonetheless, the modified F-16 will be a capable warplane–the USAF wants a new active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, a new center display and it’s adding an ALQ-213 electronic warfare system. The service hasn’t picked which AESA set just yet–it’ll be a toss-up between the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar and the Northrop Grumman Scalable Agile Beam Radar. A competition is expected soon…

f16iraq.jpgAll this was previously known, but we’d only really heard it from potential contractors. The USAF is going to stick with original equipment manufacturer Lockheed Martin for the prime integration contract, which might be a disappointment to BAE Systems and Boeing.

f16kunsan.jpgBAE was recently picked for the South Korean F-16 upgrade contract for 130 jets. It also previously had some success in upgrading Turkish Vipers and older USAF Air National Guard F-16s.

Next up, comes the battle to supply upgrades to Taiwan’s 146 F-16A Block 20 jets reportedly worth around $3.7 billion. BAE and Lockheed will duke it out for that contract at some point in the relatively near future. Lockheed already has a leg up on that competition…

astan2f16.jpgIn July, the Taiwanese state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation signed an agreement with Lockheed to help facilitate the F-16 upgrade program. The USAF’s decision to stick with Lockheed can only help the company’s case…

And then there is still the outside chance Taiwan may yet be allowed to buy 66 new F-16s…f16astan.jpg

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