The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has issued details about Singapore’s long-awaited upgrade programme for 60 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 52 fighters.
The proposed package is worth $2.4 billion, and includes 70 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, an avionics upgrade, and a small number of guided weapons for testing and integration purposes, says the DSCA.
If the deal goes forward, it will be conducted under the US government’s Foreign Military Sales mechanism.
The announcement makes no mention of the company that will supply the AESA radar, or who will perform the avionics upgrade. It also does not state whether Singapore will hold a competitive bidding process for either the radar or avionics requirements.
The two potential AESA radars are the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR), which was selected by South Korea, and Northrop Grumman’s Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR). Although RACR beat SABR in South Korea’s competition, Lockheed selected SABR for the US Air Force F-16 upgrade programme, which by default meant that SABR will also upgrade Taiwan’s F-16 fleet.
As for avionics, BAE Systems will upgrade the avionics for Seoul’s F-16s, while Lockheed will upgrade the avionics of US- and Taiwan-operated F-16s.
Neither BAE or Lockheed has revealed what discussions, if any, they have had with the Singapore government related to F-16 upgrades, but the pair have engaged in a spirited public relations duel around the upgrade in recent years.
BAE has highlighted the cost benefits it feels governments can enjoy if they put their F-16 upgrade programmes out to competitive tender. Lockheed, for its part, says its status as the F-16’s original manufacturer gives it unique competencies for upgrade programmes.
Singapore defence officials have indicated that an F-16 upgrade programme is planned, but have given no specifics about the timeframe. Industry observers believe it could be announced this year or possibly in 2015.
In addition to the AESA radar sets, the upgrade plan also includes 70 each of the Northrop Grumman LN-260 embedded global positioning system/inertial navigation system, joint helmet-mounted cueing systems, and BAE APX-125 advanced identification friend or foe combined interrogator transponders. Also included are items such as spares, training, and logistical support.
The small number of weapons in the package include three Raytheon AIM-9X Block II captive air training missiles, and a selection of ground-attack weapons.