There are only 15 remaining F-16’s to be built, but Lockheed Martin expects to keep the life of one of the most well known jets going for a long time.

As with many older fighters, the current trend is to maintain the shell airframe but upgrade the electronics, radars, and other mission equipment. International customers want affordability and upgraded systems for their already established cadre of jets. Lockheed Martin feels it has done just that with the F-16V.

Randy Howard, director of F-16 business development for Lockheed Martin, is excited about what the next phase of the F-16 will look like.

“We are taking technologies from the F-22 and F-35 and rolling it into the F-16,” he says. “The latest kid on the block is the F-16V – it’s an upgrade programme for existing F-16s and the natural next step for those existing and emerging customers of the jet.”

The F-16V has the APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR). Made by Northrop Grumman, SABR is a multifunction, active electronically scanned array (AESA) fire control radar that brings fifth-generation air-to-air and air-to-ground radar capability to the F-16. SABR is touted by Northrop Grumman as being an “affordable F-16 AESA solution”.

APG-83, Photo Northrop Grumman
APG-83, Photo Northrop Grumman

Additional upgrades for the F-16V could include a joint helmet-mounted cueing system, Link 16 data link, Lockheed Sniper targeting pod and conformal fuel tanks. Conformal fuel tanks are added to the jet to extend the range while maintaining the same radar cross section for the aircraft.

Under the terms of Northrop Grumman/Lockheed Martin contract signed back in 2015, Northrop Grumman will provide 142 radars to Lockheed Martin as part of the Taiwan Air Force F-16 upgrade program. Northrop Grumman will deliver the first of 144 APG-83 production units later in 2016 for the F-16 upgrade programs of international customers.

The cockpit of the next-generation F-16V Fighting Falcon. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed-Martin)
The cockpit of the next-generation F-16V Fighting Falcon. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed-Martin)

While the specific international customers were not mentioned in the article, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan (as mentioned above) have signed contracts with Lockheed Martin.

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Top Photo: A Belgian F-16AM Fighting Falcon. Credit: Sputnik News