Lockheed Martin's F-16 Block 60 proposal remain in the UAE's strike fighter competition, with an announcement now expected by the turn of the year. The last F-16 on order for the USAF will be delivered in 1997, although the service has a stated requirement for an additional 120 aircraft. Deliveries could resume as early as 1998. The additional aircraft would be Block 50-standard F-16C single-seaters.

Firm orders in hand will keep the F-16 production line open until 1999 and includes 150 Block 20 F-16A/Bs for Taiwan, delivery of which begins in 1997, and a follow-on purchase of 18 F-16Cs for Singapore. Several F-16 customers are considering follow-on purchases.

Lockheed Martin has flight-tested an extended-range F-16ES (Enhanced Strategic) with conformal fuel tanks and internal FLIR targeting system which feeds into the baseline configuration for the Block 60.

Four European F-16 operators - Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway - plan to upgrade the avionics in 301 F-16A/Bs under the mid-life update (MLU) programme. Flight testing is under way and MLU kit installation will get begin in Europe in 1996. Taiwan's F-16s will incorporate some of the improvements.

The USAF plans a fourth multi-stage improvement programme for the F-16, beginning around the year 2000, which would introduce synthetic-aperture radar, flat-panel displays, internal targeting system, datalink communications and new precision-guided munitions. F-16As being retired from the USAF are being offered to several foreign customers.

Source: Flight International