Lockheed Martin and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) have determined that bad inputs from pitch rate gyroscopes caused the crash of an F-16 on 8 May.

“The flight-data recorder recovered from the crashed F-16 showed that its pitch rate gyroscopes gave erroneous inputs to the flight-control computer,” says Singapore’s defence ministry.

Singapore F-16 RSAF

Source: Republic of Singapore Air Force

Pitch rate gyroscopes provide essential data to the F-16’s flight-control computer

“This led to the pilot being unable to control the plane at take-off.”

The pilot ejected safely, but Singapore suffered its first loss of a fighter aircraft in two decades with the jet crashing at Tengah air base.

The defence ministry notes that the F-16 is fitted with four pitch rate gyroscopes, and that a “simultaneous failure of the gyroscopes is a very rare occurrence”. This is the first such incident Singapore has experienced in its 35 years operating the type.

It notes that Lockheed “does not stipulate any maintenance for the pitch rate gyroscopes in the F-16 aircraft”.

Further investigations will be undertaken to determine causes specific to the crash.

The RSAF’s F-16s will resume flying operations, but the jets’ pitch rate gyroscopes will be checked and cleared before flights resume.

The F-16 has been the cornerstone of the RSAF for decades. The country is in the process of upgrading about 60 F-16C/Ds to the F-16V standard, with the first modernised example delivered in 2021.

Upgrades include a new active electronically scanned array radar – the Northrop Grumman APG-83 – new mission computers, updated avionics, and the Link 16 datalink.