Lockheed Martin has announced a new variant of the F-16 fighter, which will include an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, new mission computer and other cockpit improvements.
The F-16V configuration will be available as an upgrade for most F-16s as well as new production jets, said George Standridge, vice-president of business development at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. The "V" in the aircraft's name stands for "Viper", the nickname given to the type by US Air Force pilots.
During a presentation at the Singapore Airshow, Standridge noted that most legacy F-16s can be upgraded to the F-16V standard, which is roughly equivalent to the F-16 Block 60.
Nearly 4,500 F-16s have been delivered since the 1970s and the aircraft is operated by 26 countries globally.
Standridge did not specify the radar type that would be used. In the Taiwan and South Korean F-16 upgrade competitions, Northrop Grumman has proposed its Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) against the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR).
The F-16 Block 60s operated by the United Arab Emirates are equipped with Northrop's APG-80 AESA radar.
© Lockheed Martin
South Korea is currently seeking avionics improvements for its F-16 fleet
The first company to win an AESA competition will have a very strong first-mover advantage in the F-16 radar upgrade market. The USAF is also very interested in the outcome of the South Korean and Taiwanese competitions, because it could have a bearing on the radar that is eventually integrated into its own F-16s.
Standridge also mentioned proposed new variants of the C-130J Hercules, the C-130XJ and C-130 Sea Hercules. The C-130XJ would be 10-15% less expensive than the existing C-130J, as previously reported by Flightglobal. Lockheed would achieve the savings by removing the C-130J's electronic warfare suite, defensive countermeasures and freight handling system.
The Sea Hercules would incorporate P-3C Orion capabilities into a C-130 airframe and be optimised for maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare duties.