F-16F (Block 60) built for the Air Force of the UAE, seen on
its first flight. This two-seater version is now designated F-16F.
Lockheed Martin’s F-16 was known as “the workhorse
of Desert Storm” and its combat-proven tradition continued in
Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, with close to 4,000 sorties flown
in continuous, all-weather operations. The production lines of
this versatile strike fighter revived since the turn of the
century, with new production orders for 344 aircraft and
modernization and upgrading contracts for many more, that position
this air combat veteran at the leading edge of air warfare. Firm orders
will provide production line work until at least 2008, with
anticipated new orders and deliveries lasting through 2011.
The Israeli Soufa (Storm) F-16I is based on a modified F-16 Block 52
configuration, with many indigenous systems designed specifically
for the IAF.
Fighting Falcons rolling off the Lockheed Martin's production line
are advanced Block 50/52 and lately, Block 60 versions. These
production series represent the largest configuration change in
the F-16 history, offering additional fuel and payload capacity,
new or improved avionics and sensors, color cockpit displays with
enhanced pilot/vehicle interfaces. Nine countries have already
ordered Advanced Block 50/52/60 F-16s, including the USA, Greece, Israel, UAE,
Chile and Poland, The lead customer for Block 52 was the Hellenic Air
Force which will receive all its 50 new F-16s in 2004. 30
additional aircraft, plus options for 10 were ordered by the Greek
government In December 2005, with deliveries scheduled for 2009. The Israeli
Air Force will receive its first F-16Is in February 2004 and the
last of the 102 aircraft is scheduled for delivery by 2008. The lead customer for
80 Block 60 aircraft was the Air Force of the
Arab Emirates which is also in production for initial deliveries
The Hellenic Air Force will receive this year the last of the
50 F-16 Block 52 aircraft ordered in 2000, both two seaters and
versions of the Block 50/52 F-16s are difficult to tell from
previous F-16s, as most changes are internal. However, the
two-seat models of the Advanced Block 50/52 and Block 60 are
equipped with a dorsal avionics compartment that accommodates all
of the systems of the single-seat model as well as some special
mission equipment and additional chaff/flare dispensers. Most
aircraft are procured wit Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFT) for extended
range and mission endurance. The rear cockpit can be configured
for either a weapon system operator or an instructor pilot and can
be converted with a single switch in the cockpit.
Advanced Block 50/52 aircraft have a common engine bay that allows
customers a choice of engines in the 29,000-pound thrust class.
The Block 50s and are powered by the General Electric F110-GE-129
and have the Modular Common Inlet Duct (known as the large mouth
inlet). Block 60 aircraft (for the UAE) are fitted with GE
F-110-GE-132 engine, a derivative of the F-110-GE-129 that is
rated at 32,500 pounds of thrust. The Block 52s are powered by the
Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 Improved performance Engine (IPE)
which also has 29,000 pounds of thrust. The engine is configured
with the Normal Shock Inlet (also known as the small mouth inlet).
The aircraft is also equipped with an on-board oxygen-generating
system replaces the liquid oxygen system of earlier versions to
provide breathable air to the pilot. The system improves mission
rate, maintainability, deployment flexibility and safety.
Targeting and Weapon Systems
air/air missions, the aircraft is equipped with medium range
missiles such as the AIM-120A AMRAAM. For close range combat, the
aircraft can support the AIM-9X, IRIS-T, Python 4 and Python 5.
The aircraft also retains the capability to use the six barrel
20mm Gatling gun. Block 52 configurations are also equipped with
an advanced version of the APG-68 radar - the (V)9, while F-16E/F
is fitted with the new APG-80 Active Electronic Scanning Array (AESA)
system. These new radars have improved performance, higher
processing speed and memory capacities and improved high-resolution synthetic aperture radar mode
which allows the pilot
to locate and recognize tactical ground targets from considerable
distances. In conjunction with inertial aided weapons, the
gains an enhanced capability for all-weather precision strike from
standoff distances. Modern F-16s of the advanced Block 50/52 can
accommodate various targeting systems, including the Lockheed
Martin Sniper XR/Pantera, and Northrop Grumman/RAFAEL Litening.
These pods are used for target identification, acquisition and
designation for smart, GPS guided munitions or laser guided bombs such as
GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), the AGM-154 Joint Standoff
Weapon (JSOW), SPICE guided weapon, and CBU-103/104/105 Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser
The later can also be cued by target data provided directly from
the radar, in low visibility conditions. On recce missions,
advanced F-16s can also carry autonomous reconnaissance pods on
the centerline, on intelligence gathering penetration or standoff
A navigation pod, such as LANTIRN/Pathfinder and digital
terrain models are contributing to a safe, accurate low level
flight. The aircraft is also equipped with various navigation
systems such as tactical air navigation (TACAN),
VHF omnidirectional receiver (VOR), distance measuring equipment (DME),
and instrument landing system. An integrated precision navigation
suite consisting of a ring laser gyro inertial navigation system
(INS), global positioning system (GPS), and digital terrain system
(DTS) are also standard.
The standard configuration of an Advanced Block 50/52 cockpit
features helmet-mounted cueing system, which allows the pilot to
direct sensors or weapons to his line of sight or to help him find
a designated target. Head-Up Display and several color
multifunction displays and advanced recording and data-transfer
equipment is used to reduce pilot workload in every phase of the mission.
The cockpit is compatible with night vision goggles. A common
configuration includes multi-channel VHF/UHF/HF/Data communications, satellite communication and tactical data link systems
(such as the NATO-standard Link 16), in addition. Link 16 provides secure,
jam-resistant, high-volume data exchange on a multi-node network.
Also standard is the combined friend from foe interrogator/
transponder, which permits autonomous identification to maximize
launch ranges of radar-guided air-to-air missiles at distances
beyond visual range (BVR).