Venezuela expected to be first customer for IAI F-16 revamp

Venezuela is emerging as the likely launch customer for the Israel Aircraft Industries-led (IAI) avionics upgrade for the Lockheed MartinF-16 A/B. The deal, however, is not expected to shore up the troubled Avionics Capability Enhancement (ACE) programme.

The Latin American country operates 22 F-16A/Bs and has been seeking an upgrade for some time. Lockheed Martin is supporting the proposed deal with Venezuela, although it continues to believe that the ACE's potential is limited. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics president Dain Hancock earlier this year expressed doubts about the programme during a visit to Israel (Flight International, 2-8 July).

IAI has been flying an ACE demonstrator since June last year. Despite the programme receiving Israeli government funding and the air force supplying anF-16B for a prototype conversion, ACE will not be implemented on Israel's older F-16s as the country has ordered 102 latest generation F-16Is, the first of which is due for hand over next year.

As well as IAI, other team members include Astronautics, Elop and Elta. Although it is not clear what configuration is on offer to Venezuela, the upgrade is based around an open architecture system intended to allow the easy integration of a range of sensors and avionics without requiring computing hardware changes.

The full configuration includes the Elta EL/M-2032radar, which will be fitted to Venezuela's Alenia/Embraer AMX-Ts; three 130 x 180mm (5 x 7in)liquid crystal multifunction cockpit displays; Elop wide-angle head-up display and Elbit helmet-mounted display.

Source: Flight International