The newest version of Lockheed Martin’s venerable F-16 has taken to the air for the first time, with a range of equipment enhancements including an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

Flown from Lockheed’s Fort Worth production facility in Texas on 16 October, the F-16V is being aimed at potential export customers, including Indonesia. The company exhibited a cockpit demonstrator for the new variant in Jakarta earlier this month, having formally launched the product at the Singapore air show in 2012.

F-16V - Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed describes the addition of Northrop Grumman’s APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar as delivering “a quantum leap in capability” for the F-16. Further enhancements incorporated for the F-16V include the addition of a centre pedestal display for the pilot, plus a modernised mission computer, other new avionics equipment and an updated electronic warfare system. Combined, these “add significant combat capabilities to address the dynamic threat environments emerging in the coming decades”, the company says.

F-16V pair - Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed is offering to manufacture the V-model aircraft for new and repeat customers, or to provide elements of the update package – such as the AESA radar – during upgrades to in-service examples. Taiwan is the launch customer for such a modernisation programme, with 144 F-16A/Bs to be updated via a Lockheed-led activity.

More than 4,550 F-16s have been delivered throughout the programme’s history. The design was first flown in 1974, and Flightglobal’s Fleets Analyzer database records the type’s current active global fleet as totalling 2,998 aircraft. Lockheed’s current sales backlog for the type includes fighters on order for Egypt and Iraq, while the United Arab Emirates also plans to increase the size of its current fleet of E/F-model examples.