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Pakistan is planning to upgrade 74 F-16s
March 29, 2017

Pakistan is planning to upgrade 74 F-16s

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) are negotiating a deal to upgrade 74 F-16s (which include a new batch from Jordan). Although the PAF would prefer to implement the upgrade in Pakistan, it expects reluctance from the U.S. – cue Turkey.

A Turkish procurement official told Defense News that the PAF has not yet defined the upgrade, but the implementation process is expected to cost around $100 million U.S. This is close to the MLU that TAI implemented onto roughly 40 PAF F-16A/B Block-15s in the late 2000s and early 2010s.

Comment and Analysis

Last week, we believed that the PAF was negotiating to get its 13 ex-Jordanian F-16A/B Block-15ADF (short for Air Defence Fighter) units upgraded to MLU standard. However, the report by Defense News clearly states that the upgrade program is for basically the entire PAF F-16A/B fleet.

If this comes to fruition, then it could be a significant program. First, it is important to note that the actual contents of this upgrade have not yet been defined. This is not surprising considering that the PAF would almost certainly secure the necessary subsystems and components from the U.S., TAI will simply do the integration work. This is all to be expected.

The most important question at this stage is, what is the PAF actually planning to upgrade? Could it simply be a structural life extension program (SLEP) for the airframes? Or could it perhaps be a comprehensive upgrade involving a new radar as well as on-board avionics suite?

If the latter, then the next step beyond the PAF’s existing MLU configuration would be the F-16V upgrade, which would be significant on a number of fronts. For one thing, it restores the F-16’s position as a serious qualitative driver within the PAF fighter fleet; the F-16V upgrade includes the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar as well as a cockpit upgrade.

For an understanding as to how an AESA radar would be beneficial, be sure to review yesterday’s piece about the JF-17 Block-III.

The F-16V upgrade is being implemented onto Taiwan’s 145 F-16A/B Block-20 (under a $1.45 billion U.S. deal signed in 2012). South Korea will upgrade its 134 F-16C/D to the F-16V configuration as well; it had awarded a $1.5 billion U.S. contract to Lockheed Martin in December 2015.

Whatever the case, the PAF is serious about pushing its F-16s through the upgrade – talks with TAI have already commenced. As for the specifics, we will have to wait and see. There is a high chance that the PAF may not be able to access the F-16V-upgrade, the U.S. Department of Defense may be reluctant to part with the technology (out of reservations with Pakistan’s ties with China). It could simply be a SLEP.

  • Vap

    F-16 V is the way to go.

  • Shershahsuri

    Pakistan will have to use strong diplomatic leverage to have V-grade update for its legacy F-16. But this is bitter reality that Pakistan has no foreign minister so far either. There should be a man in the helm of foreign affair who has sound knowledge of such sensitive national issues.

    • MT

      V grade is out of question for Pakistan as it has been playing double game with US for last 15 yrs. The new taliban leader was again chosen yday from Quetta in which 100 top tier1 taliban terrorist came in for meeting.

      How can US fund a state who openly harbors top terrorists responsible for losses of bill$ money,property, lives of ISAF/ANA soldiers..

      I repeat again that Pak army & Pakistan army is going to be sanctioned, blacklisted by US administration if Pak doesnt go after Afghan taliban!

      • Abdul Rashid

        Thanks.
        Again, this is MT’s opinion expressed in strong language but it is relevant to the topic (likely outcome of PAF’s drive to upgrade F16s) and excludes abusive language and personal insults to anyone. Feel free to respond and present your case but do ensure you adhere to the Quwa guidelines: 1) On topic, 2) Constructive, 3) No insults.
        Thanks.

        • jigsaww

          I think you are giving him undue attention.

          He’s just repeating the national anti-Pakistan propaganda he sees all day long on hindustani television sanctioned by the hindustani gov and intelligence agency. There’s nothing new in it. Also, people like him don’t really get convinced in life time, 48 hours would never do.

          There’s better things to use time on.

          • Abdul Rashid

            Good point.

            The reason I urge a measured response is to avoid people taking the bait and start hurling insults. This just starts the slide down to mud-slinging contest and ruins the atmosphere for everyone or worse, premature closure of a popular article/thread.

            Of course there is the option of not approving in the first place any comment that risks a harsh abusive response but then again I have to try my level best to adhere to the criteria set by Boss Bilal (aka Admin) and consider all comments, even those representing an unpopular opinion from across the border.

          • jigsaww

            You’re doing great.
            Certain people come here only to vent out their hate for Pakistan. That’s all he is about.

          • Abdul Rashid

            I have actually worked with many Indians, both foreign citizens of Indian origin and from India too and rarely for Pakistanis, I have spent some time working aboard a ship built by Bharati Shipyard (non military related, before I get shot for treason!) so I know first hand the “quality” of their build but during heated Pak-India who-makes-what-at-what-quality exchanges here I choose never to go in to details both to safeguard my own work background and also not to trigger a never-ending dispute.

            India is a huge and diverse nation with many shades of opinion on a whole host of issues . My next door neighbours are in fact Indian Sikhs and their views are diametrically opposed to the opinions on Pakistan we often read from Indians on internet forums.

          • jigsaww

            I don’t know what you want to say exactly, but this is why i said “certain people”.
            It does not matter what normal people think in Hindustan. They’re most likely nice and ordinary folk just like on the other side of the border. What matters is their leadership and people who are in charge of making decisions for the country and defining its policy towards Pakistan.
            Therefore mixing ordinary people (or taking their thinking as reflection of Hindustan’s foreign policy towards Pakistan) with the leadership and decision makers is the problem. Pakistanis are more prone to falling for that, sometime in name of CBMs and sometime in name of aman ke asha, Doing all that is OK, but don’t forget that is NOT the official or even covert policy of Hindustan towards Pakistan. There is a certain image of pakistan presented before people’s eyes, sanctioned by the gov.

            Every Pakistani need to be aware of that at the end of the day.

          • Abdul Rashid

            What I meant is for some reason unknown to me, on Internet forums we almost never find this “nice ordinary opinion” on Pakistan from Indians. It is nearly always without exception, “Pakistan terrorist”, “Pakistan poor”, “Pakistan madrassa educated”. The same mantra all the time.

          • Hindukush

            So you figured it out rashid….better late than never

          • Abdul Rashid

            Lol, it is pretty straightforward to figure it out. Only have to read a few comments on different forums.

          • jigsaww

            Like i said “There is a certain image of Pakistan presented before people’s eyes, sanctioned by their gov.”

            You can switch on a Hindustani channel right now and see what kind of stuff is being spoken about Pakistan. It’s been like this for last 70 years.

            By policy, the only way they want to see themselves is as enemy towards Pakistan. You can try everything about it, yet can’t do anything about it.

            People don’t matter here, policies do.

          • Abdul Rashid

            I know. I have seen Indian news at times when they have invited Pakistanis to speak on an issue and vice versa. On Pakistani channels, the Indian guests (the likes of venom-spewing Bharat Verma) are always give a fair share of time and a civilised conduct but the other way round, Pakistani guests are shouted down, accused of all the crimes under the sun and hardly allowed to say a single sentence.

      • Shershahsuri

        Pakistan has killed and arrested more terrorists than US itself. this has been acknowledged by US and ISAF. US administration itself now try to convince congress to approve FMF for Pakistan. US has officially declared so many times that US military aid to Pakistan is in the interest US itself. So V-grade is not so out of question.

      • Shershahsuri

        And the US will never please so much to sanction and blacklist Pak Army as they know very well the consequences of blacklisting a nuclear equipped army. A nuclear equipped state is to be kept in the international mainstream rather than to be isolated.

      • Hindukush

        These expensive toys are not in Pakistan’s interest……..way forward for Pakistan is to build indiginous capacity……..so enjoy your Rafeals or F18s we will not play that game

  • Ashi Sidhu

    As you have given the cost of taiwan and south korea; upgrade cost of pakistan’s f 16s should be greater than $700 million not $100m plus US will not give AESA technology to chinese ally.
    the MLU and jordanian f 16s are very old how long will these aircraft last , not beyond 2035 according to me

    • The article clearly says that the $100m is for implementation. The total cost of the upgrade will depend on the subsystems involved.

      • Abdul Rashid

        Ah, this makes it all much clearer now.

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