Block52/60 F-16 aircraft,
currently procured for Israel, Greece and the UAE, have structural,
plumbing, and wiring provisions for the Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFT).
These external, pod-like fuel reservoirs are attached on the upper
surface of the F-16’s fuselage, with the tank’s lower surface
conforming to the aircraft shape. The upper surface arrangement
allows the CFTs to be relatively light weight because nothing is
suspended from them. With an empty weight of 900 pounds, tank set
holds 450 gallons (ca. 3,050 pounds,
or 2,271 litres)
of additional JP-5/8 fuel.
The extra fuel increases range,
loiter time, and combat persistence as well as reduces the demand
for tanker support. Range increase is on the order of twenty to
forty percent, depending on the stores configuration and mission
The tanks have neglible effect on the
aircraft agility, at subsonic speed, However, at
supersonic speed, the drag is increased proportionally to the
increase in speed. When fitted with CFT the aircraft retains
almost the full handling qualities, flight limits, and signature.
A complete set can be removed or replaced within two hours. The CFTs are built to Lockheed Martin's specification, by IAI as a
sole source, as part of the Peace Marble V program offsets.
“The CFTs have very little
adverse effect on the F-16’s renowned performance,” said Maj.
Timothy S. McDonald, U.S. Air Force project pilot for CFT testing
at Eglin. “A set of CFTs
carries 50 percent more fuel than the centerline external fuel
tank, but has only 12 percent of the drag.” The CFTs are designed
for the full F-16 flight envelope – up to 9 g’s, maximum angle of
attack and sideslip and maximum roll rate.
Israel, for example placed a
special significance to the
of its new
F-16I, derived from the added range and endurance
provided by the CFT. For
medium range air-to-surface missions, CFTs can eliminate the need
for wing tanks. This allows doubling the F-16’s primary weapon
capacity and flying with two, rather than one, types of large
weapons in a balanced configuration. In long range missions, the
use of CFT dramatically increases the operational radius of the
aircraft, since it enables the aircraft to fly a long range strike
mission, with full weapon's load, and engage in air combat when
external (370 Gal) fuel tanks are dropped.
370 gal jetissonable tanks or 600gal non-jetissonable external
tanks are added the F-16 can demonstrate up to 60-70 percent
increase in operational radius. Another Israeli development
utilizes a new fuel carrying
configuration for the F-16, which enables the carrying of up
to four 370 gallon external tanks, plus one 300 gallon under the
belly, resulting in 25% increase in mission radius and twice the
endurance on patrol missions.