To keep the F-16 family of fighters running at top performance, operating air forces worldwide are implementing various upgrading programs. The Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP) provides a high degree of commonality in hardware and software, thus improving operational flexibility, logistics support and reducing life cycle costs, training. After receiving the F-16 CCIP upgrade, and the M3/3+ software enhancement, USAF Block 40/42s and 50/52s and NATO’s F-16s will have common core avionics and software. With the recent software upgrade, these aircraft will have the capability to deploy support smart weapons with inertial, GPS and laser guidance systems, supporting advanced weapons such as the GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), AGM-154 Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW), CBU-103/104/105 Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD) and EGBU-27 enhanced laser-guided bomb.
Up to 650 Block 40/42 aircraft of the USAF and US Air National Guard are being upgraded under this program. The upgrades also provide a high degree of commonality and convergence of existing fleets with new production F-16s built for international customers, and with the F-16 Mid-Life Update being performed on 400 F-16A/Bs operated by five European NATO partners. The program is divided into phases: Phase I and IA for the initial systems to Block 50/52 aircraft; Phase II for the full modification to Block 50/52 aircraft; and Phase III for the full modification to Block 40/42 aircraft.
European MLU Upgrades
Another upgrade is the F-16A/B Mid-Life Update (MLU) implemented in various phases by NATO air forces operating the F-16 – Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal. The latest MLU upgrade is focusing primarily in avionic modernization, and include Block 50 F-16C/D-style cockpit with color multifunction displays, modular mission computer, APG-66(V)2 radar update, integration of a digital terrain system, global positioning system (GPS), advanced identification friend or foe (IFF), improved data modem data link, installation of an electronic warfare management system, and provisions for a reconnaissance pod and a helmet-mounted display. A upgrade of the Portuguese Air Force F-16A/B aircraft included this MLU Phase II also included the Falcon UP/Falcon STAR structural upgrades, and F100-PW-220E engine upgrades. Further upgrades to the Portuguese aircraft included a night identification light, dedicated electronic warfare MUX bus, additional chaff/flare dispensers and provisions for an internal missile warning system and a flight analyzer/air combat evaluation/voice and data recorder.
Israeli F-16 Upgrades
Most of Israel’s F-16s have already undergone the Falcon-UP service life extension program, performed both by the IAF support center and IAI. Other modernizations included the installation of internal ACMI systems (in F-16As) associated with ground debriefing systems (similar but less sophisticated as the F-16I SIMNET). Also implemented are adaptations for Israeli weapons and systems, such as the EW systems, Python 4 missiles carrying capability, communications, data-links, etc. Another upgrade program called ACE program is proposed by a consortium of Israeli companies for early models Block 10 – 30 aircraft. ACE integrates a new multi-mission radar from Elta (EL/M-2032), improved core avionics, a modern color glass cockpit and helmet mounted sight, introduction of new weapons capabilities, advanced EW systems, fuel increase options and other avionic upgrades.
Preparing for Future Upgrades
With the recent acquisitions of F-16s, Lockheed Martin plans to sustain production on the F-16 line at Ft. Worth beyond 2010. Major upgrades for all F-16 versions are being incorporated to keep the fleet modern and fully supportable over the aircraft’s long service life. As all F-16 blocks, recent production blocks of the F-16 such as Block 50, 52 and 60 are also designed, from the ground up, with enough growth potential in weight growth, cabling, data connectivity and capacity, electrical power, and physical space, to enable growth throughout a life span of 40 years and beyond. Utilization of standard interfaces such as 1760, 1553 and the new FiberChannel five channels, Gigabit rate databus, enable rapid interfacing and data sharing throughout the aircraft systems. In addition to the production programs, Lockheed Martin has incorporated a “roadmap of convergence” for F-16 upgrades and production aircraft, consisting of an integrated plan that will result in maximum commonality throughout the fleet.
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The F-16 fleet began receiving the M3+ (M3 is the designation for European Air Forces) software version upgrade in the summer of 2004. The joint software development was carried out by the USAF and European Air Forces since 2000. The follow-on release (M4/M4+) is scheduled for 2007 and 2009 (M5/5+).
Software upgrades are being implemented in the field, on 200 USAF Block 50 F-16C/D‘s already equipped with Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP) modifications. Software upgrades for some 400 Block 40 F-16C/Ds is scheduled to begin in 2006 during depot maintenance cycles. The M3 software will be installed on approximately 350 EPAF F-16A/Bs that have already undergone the F-16A/B Mid-Life Update modification and are now receiving hardware changes associated with the M3 upgrade. The M3 modification will take place at depot facilities in each country.
A major new capability offered with the M3+ are Link 16 data link and the helmet-mounted cueing system (HMCS). The USAF F-16s also will be receiving a capability to deliver the Lockheed Martin AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM). The software is also compatible with the Lockheed Martin Sniper XR targeting pod recently certified on the F-16 for the USAF and Norway. The European F-16s will gain the capability to deliver the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM).
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Based on networks already deployed worldwide with Security and Public Safety services , Motorola has expanded its offerings to military cellular \wide area communications, based on its Tetra IP network. The ETSI, standards based platform is modified to suite the specific requirements of the client provide a full communications suite for logistic and support units, it can be configured to cover a specific area, support mobile operations at extended range, connect between several dispersed locations over satellite link or provide nation-wide cellular coverage, in support of military operations in peacetime or at war.
The first military implementation of the TetraIP was the creation of a new, terrestrial nationwide military cellular network for the Israel Defense Forces providing dependable, deployable voice and data services to military commanders. Code name Vered Harim (Moutain Rose), the system became operational in mid 2004, after almost four years of development and installation. This network will become part of the IDF future “Digital Army Program”. Vered Harim revolutionizes the IDF communications networks, transforming from hierarchical networking model to spatial connectivity infrastructure. The system replaced outdated means of communications, including terrestrial communications, wireless radio-telephone (RT) links and some combat net radio networks. For the first time Israeli commanders can utilize highly secure communications on the move, anywhere they operate. The system also support data transfer. Currently transfer of images and messages is facilitated with planned enhancements including video services. Data support of up to 28.8 kbps is currently available to support forces deployed throughout the theater of operation. This bandwidth is sufficient to transfer live video, utilizing compressed video transfer services provided by Visual Defense (Emblaze) systems. These networks can link to terrestrial networks or satellite communications systems, to facilitate direct and seamless connectivity from the lowest echelon up to the national command level.
As a cellular communications infrastructure, the network maintains all technical elements at the infrastructure level. This military network is maintained by the operator and therefore, enables services which have so-far been maintained only by commercial providers. These include end-to-end high level of security, assured coverage and capacity, based on operational planning (not only by actual demand) and the ability to “kill” a unit which is interfering, lost or captured by the enemy.
Unlike other commercial cellular networks which rely mainly on fixed sites, Motorola’s solution uses fixed and transportable sites, which deploy with the military units, positioned at vantage points where they provide optimal coverage and redundancy to maintain effective connectivity and communications capacity for the operating forces. Since the system is not dependent in the commercial infrastructure, communications can be sustained even under critical loads and in emergencies, where other forms of communications fail. When communications is not available for any reason, each subscriber unit (handset) is configured to communicate directly with nearby handsets therefore maintaining a minimum level of communications.
Handsets are provided with a SIM card and personal unique ID for duplex communications at a high level of security. Handsets are also integrated into robust vehicular mounts, including militarized mounts for AFV installations.
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Over the past decade, modern air forces are transforming their operational concepts from platform and weapons dependent to effects oriented planning. In other words, shifting from focusing on the number of airplanes it takes to destroy a single target, to the number of targets which can be destroyed with a single aircraft and the aggregated effect such attacks could yield.
Investment in precision guided munitions following the lessons from the Kosovo campaign was fully vindicated during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Around 66% of US munitions and up to 85% of RAF munitions used during OIF were precision guided, either by Global Positioning Systems (GPS) or by laser or both. This demonstrates a huge leap forward in capability since the 1991 conflict, when the proportion of precision guided munitions was around 30% of US and 18% of RAF weapons were guided.
The US Forces flew 37,000 missions during OIF, dropping 23,000 precision guided weapons (over 66% of the total ordnance dropped) and launching 750 cruise missiles. During OIF, new tactics were developed to find, fix, track, engage, and assess fleeting targets, enabling the coalition to effectively process 156 time sensitive targets, and more than 680 highly mobile dynamic targets. Coalition forces command and control structures at the Combined Air Operations Center were also modified to far better integrate space operations into operational planning and mission control.
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