Singapore Technologies Aerospace (ST Aero) and BAE Systems have signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) to collaborate on the Falcon One cockpit upgrade for Lockheed Martin F-16s. The upgrade programme is aimed at F-16A/Bs or older C/D airframes.

According to ST Aero senior manager programme development Ting Seng Ming, a prototype of the upgraded aircraft could be flying by the "end of next year or the beginning of 2002 - the target is to have an F-16 ready 18 months after we find a buyer".

"We are proceeding with the demonstrator, which is the reason for the tie-up," says Ting, adding that the partners are "exploring all options" for sourcing the airframe demonstrator.

Sources close to the programme, however, suggest that one likely solution would be to use one of the Republic of Singapore Air Force's seven remaining F-16A/B airframes, which the Ministry of Defence says are due to be withdrawn from service. One source says that the plan is to modify a single F-16B airframe, with a full Falcon One upgrade in the front cockpit, and a partial upgrade in the rear cockpit.

The UK company is providing equipment which includes the head-up display (HUD), helmet-mounted display and the digital moving map for the upgrade. The HUD is capable of displaying raster images such as forward-looking infrared sensor images.

The upgrade includes a glass cockpit with three 127 x 178mm (5 x 7in) multifunction colour displays, a new radar and a new mission computer, replacing three computers in the F-16A/B. Also included is an integrated battlefield data management system - a smart datalink system, fusing data from multiple sources.

The radar options to be offered are either a Fiar Grifo F-plus or a Northrop Grumman APG-66(V)2. The programme face competition from similar schemes in Israel and the USA.

Source: Flight International