Douglas Barrie/LONDON

Singapore's latest batch of Lockheed Martin F-16D Block 52 aircraft is believed to be undergoing a modification by Israel, drawing on elements of the Israeli air force's own F-16D Brakeet (Thunderbolt) strike aircraft.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has 20 F-16D Block 52 aircraft on order. The first D model of a batch of 18C/Ds which are being procured has the same enlarged spine as the Israeli air force aircraft have.

Although the airframe modification for the RSAF's D model was implemented in the USA, both US and Israeli sources confirm that considerable technical assistance to the RSAF is coming from Israel.

Israeli F-16Ds carry additional avionics in the hump, including Elisra electronic countermeasures. A similar fit may be being provided to the RSAF.

The RSAF is also understood to be interested in acquiring an improved air-to-surface anti-radiation missile capability to supersede the AGM-45 Shrike. Sources indicate that its preferred option is the Raytheon AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radar Missile (HARM). The Block 52 aircraft is HARM-capable. The RSAF's Block 50/52s are also known to be being wired for the carriage of non-US manufactured weaponry. Singapore is understood to have received its first batch of Rafael Python 4 high agility dogfight missiles in the latter half of 1997, although the RSAF officially denies that it has ordered the Python 4.

While the RSAF's only current air to air missile (AAM) is the semi-active AIM-7 Sparrow , it is likely to move rapidly to procure an active radar guided AAM as soon as the Russian Vympel R-77 (AA-12 Adder) appears in the region.

The US Government, according to Washington sources, is unwilling to introduce the Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM active radar-guided AAM into the region until such time as a "like system" (ie the R-77) is in evidence.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force is expected to take deliveries of the R-77 during 1999 for its MAPO MiG-29 Fulcrums. Israel may also offer its Derby active radar-guided AAM to the RSAF.

Source: Flight International