608 US F-16s Block 40 and 50 get a huge upgrade for $ 6.3B
WASHINGTON — The largest modification and upgrade of F-16 Block 40 and F-16 Block 50 fighters of the Air Force begins. $ 6.8 billion will be invested in the U.S. Post Block Integration Team or PoBIT by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Fighters and Advanced Aircraft Directorate.
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According to Defense Talk, 608 F-16 fighters begin the process of obtaining 22 modifications. They need to significantly improve the airworthiness of American fighters. The goal is clear – to ensure the combat effectiveness of the American flagship during the implementation of current and future threats, as well as combat missions.
There is a lot of work ahead for the F-16 program office in the directorate. Although some of the modifications have already begun, there is a challenge for the team that needs to make the improvements. Serious planning and coordination of actions will play a key role so as not to affect the combat readiness of fighters that are currently on combat duty around the world.
“This is a pretty massive effort, a collision of mods as we call it,” said Oryan “OJ” Joseph, program manager with the directorate’s F-16 Program Office. “We had to quickly look at all of the mods that are going on the aircraft and not only understand the timing of when the mods are going to deliver, but also when the aircraft will be available from the units. There are a lot of variables, a give and take tug of war that we deal with every day on bringing down aircraft [for modifications] at the right time.”
What will be modified?
Not a small part of the US Navy F-16 Block 40 and Block 50 works with outdated versions of their radar systems. Therefore, one of the first tasks is to get an electronically scanned array [AESA] radar. This type of radar has already been actively used in recent years by the F-15, F-18, F-22, and F-35.
The F-16s will also receive NATO’s battlefield communication standard, Link 16, which identifies who is a friend and who is an enemy. All combat aircraft of NATO member states, and not only, have such communication systems that share the same identification information in conscientious international missions.
In addition to upgrading the communications package, the F-16 will receive a high-speed data network. An upgraded cockpit, upgraded computer, electronic warfare systems – these modifications are also part of the upgrade process for all selected 608 4th generation fighters. Last but not least, the central displays of the aircraft, the data generator, and other hardware components will be updated. The process is expected to last several years and will involve many companies and contracts.
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