The first Lockheed Martin F-16E Desert Falcon will fly within the next two months, the company said at the show yesterday.

The F-16E is the single-seat version of the Lockheed Martin F-16E/F Block 60, the latest and most advanced member of the F-16 family.


Though it first appeared at Farnborough 30 years ago, the F-16 Fighting Falcon is still the backbone of the US Air Force and the air forces of 18 other countries, thanks to a process of continuous updates and modernisation.

Today's F-16 is a true multirole strike fighter, very different to the lightweight air superiority aircraft first envisaged.

The Block 60 was designed to meet the requirements of the United Arab Emirates, and is claimed to be "the most advanced F-16 ever produced".

This heavyweight version is powered by the increased thrust 32,500lb (145kN) General Electric F110-GE-132 turbofan engine, so its performance is not compromised.

Externally, the aircraft can be distinguished from previous F-16s by a ball sensor turret on the upper left side of the nose. This serves an internal, forward-looking infrared navigation sensor. The aircraft also carries a new targeting pod with faceted windows.

The aircraft is fitted with a Northrop Grumman APG-80 agile beam radar with an advanced electronically scanned array, which gives much greater detection ranges, and a twofold increase in reliability.

The new radar is also capable of producing high-resolution synthetic aperture radar images.

It requires a 'cleaner' radome, with no pitot tube.


Inside the all-glass cockpit, the pilot uses three large (5x7in - 127x178mm) colour multifunction displays.

The Block 60 carries the full range of F-16 weapons and stores, as well as the 500- and 1,000lb (200- and 400kg) Al Hakim laser-guided bomb that the UAE has procured. Several dozen fighter pilots from the UAE air force will undergo Block 60 conversion training with the 162nd Fighter Wing of the US Air National Guard, which will receive the first of 15 F-16 Block 60 fighters this year.

The F-16 is viable enough that it will still form 50% of the USAF's fighter force in 2010, when Joint Strike Fighter production ramps up.

The aircraft is planned to still be in USAF service beyond 2020 and beyond 2030 with other users.

John Bean, vice-president F-16 programmes, revealed that Lockheed Martin has a 245 aircraft backlog, with production continuing for Chile, Oman, Poland, and Israel, as well as the UAE.


Source: Flight Daily News