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Taiwan begins upgrading old F-16A/Bs to F-16V-standard
November 17, 2017
An F-16V unit. Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

Taiwan begins upgrading old F-16A/Bs to F-16V-standard

Lockheed Martin and Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) have initiated the process of upgrading the Republic of China Air Force’s (ROCAF) 144 F-16A/B Block-20 multi-role fighter aircraft to F-16V-standards, Taipei Times reports.

The centerpiece of the ROCAF F-16V upgrade is the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, which promises to confer the legacy Fighting Falcon with improved electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) qualities.

The F-16V also comprises of a modernized avionics suite, including a new flight management system, and compatibility with the AIM-9X high off-boresight (HOBS) air-to-air missile (AAM).

Notes & Comments:

Taiwan ordered 150 F-16A/B Block-20s from the U.S. in 1992. The Block-20 is essentially the Block-15 built with Mid-Life-Update (MLU) subsystems from the onset.

As per the Taipei Times, the ROCAF F-16V upgrade program – designated Phoenix Rising Project – is valued at USD $3.47 billion. However, the commonly cited cost-figure of the program is USD $1.85 billion (IHS Jane’s). The latter price-point is also close to the South Korean F-16 upgrade program, which sits at USD $1.2 billion for 170 KF-16C/D Block-50/52 (IHS Jane’s). It is not known if the ROCAF F-16V program involves structural replenishment, which would explain the additional cost.

As per Lockheed Martin (Defense News), 300 F-16s (from Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore) have been slotted for the F-16V upgrade. The company expects an additional 200 aircraft to undergo the upgrade in Greece, Turkey and Egypt. However, it is important to note that Turkey is working on a bespoke upgrade with Aselsan tasked to source an AESA radar (in lieu of Northrop Grumman).

Pakistan was also reportedly in talks with Turkey to upgrade up to 74 F-16s in 2016, though as per TAI’s CEO, the package will be determined by the PAF and Lockheed Martin (if brought to fruition). It is not known if Pakistan is seeking to upgrade its F-16s along similar lines as the F-16V.

  • mazhar

    If our F-16 A/B (from 1980s) can be upgraded to F-16 V, PAF should take this course. It seems that this upgrade comes at the right time for Pakistan.

    • Steve

      Totally agree, use TAI and just ask USA to just not hinder it

  • Shershahsuri

    It will be big boost for PAF if all of its F-16s fleet get the V-Upgrade. It will be more convenient if it is carried out by TAI. But let us see whether US will let it pass easily or hamper like the F-16 deal in 2016.

    • Steve

      The F16 deal was hampered only because we walked away for wanting a subsidised deal and could or would not pay full price. Even congress never refused the planes.

    • DB100-SM2

      Why is Pakistan so interested in the V-Upgrade when Turkey can offer you the Ozgur upgrade which has technology that will be used in the TAI TF-X? Aselsan AESA, Turkish Mission computer, EW Pod, ASELPOD, Integration with much cheaper Turkish weapons systems etc?

      • Shershahsuri

        Ozgur upgrade is not yet ready. it will be ready by 2019-20. It is not only the question of upgrade but also such munitions as Aim 9x and Aim 120 D. India will start receiving Rafales from 2018. So Pakistan will be in hurry to receives the up grades sooner and also the new tech.

        • DB100-SM2

          The Ozgur program has zero input from the US and thus Ankara needs no approval from the US administration to transfer such technology to Pakistan. AFAIK Turkey has already sold Pakistan the ASELPOD and also advanced systems for the Augusta Submarine modernisation program without US approval. In fact, the critical update under the Ozgur program is the Turkish mission computer.

        • Steve

          We also need numbers of F16 to go up. 35 new block 50/52 will be a good start. An optimum number for us is about 200 total. Just like the Turks or the Egyptians. It will be a good hi lo mix of upgraded F16 and JF17.

      • Shershahsuri

        However Ozgur up grade will be of immense value in JF-17. Even if US denies Pakistan V-upgrade, then Pakistan can go for Ozgur up grade for Pakistan but even then Turkey needs a nod from US administration.

    • Steve

      Need to get in the line for upgrade asap as LM may not have that much capacity considering everyone wants a V upgrade now. Don’t want to be given a 7 year timescale.

      • DB100-SM2

        TAI has unlimited capacity is this regard as its F-16 production and upgrade lines have not yet been decommissioned. 200+ Turkish F-16’s have undergone CCIP upgrades only a year ago at TAI facilities.

    • Steve

      I would like to know who was responsible for cancelling the done deal for 18 further F16’s when there was the Northern Areas earthquake. Why didn’t they find money elsewhere. A lot of the money apparently ‘saved’ and more money coming as aid was reportedly stolen by corrupt politicians. There was so much aid given by Pakistanis themselves some of it was not needed and wasted. That was a idiotic decision from which we are still suffering. As usual stupid policies made on the hoof by immature emotional incompetent ‘leaders’. The secretaries of the civil service and the armed forces have mature people with institutional memories. Where were they, and why did they not stop this stupidity?

  • DB100-SM2

    Turkey is also about to retrofit the ASELSAN AESA Radar on its F-16 fleet. The Aselsan AESA is nearing completion quietly. Turkish officials visited Aselsan facilities recently and a prototype of the ASELSAN AESA was also displayed here. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/13ea508604f3785c675019d71e18de2ae5803680166a50b3183192abd400529a.jpg

  • Qasim57

    Trump administration recently said they’ll try to “incentivise” what they like to call “good behavior”, on Pakistan’s part. Not sure what America wants from us though.

    They say they want us to curb our ties with anti-US resistance in Afghanistan. BUT they also want us to “use our influence” with the Afghan resistence to help prop the US-installed govt in Kabul.

    In general, Trump seems all-set to please India.

    • Steve

      Hopefully things are happening behind the scenes to get us more F16’s and get upgrades. Let’s watch for a high level delegation to DC. Maybe I’m overestimating our government but let’s be optimistic as this new administration may be a bit different. What we need is leverage and something to negotiate with and find common ground, such as an Afghan peace deal (which we also want) which we are leveraging with Russia and China anyway (well done), and acting as a policeman to squish rabid militants like ISIS (using F16V lol), not making ICBM and limiting our yield of thermonuclear to 200Kt lol, etc etc. A lot is possible. Otherwise we are pretty much in China’s camp so a major strategic relationship is not really possible. The key is we do need F16’s, but more for continuity with existing infrastructure and convenience rather than existence, and it’s not a bad position to be in. We still the USA for trade IMF and NSG etc and have half a million Pakistanis living there so no point in behaving like adversaries

      • MT

        1. Pak has nothing to offer US– Pak is already in cheen camp for decades.
        The taliban is not on any priority on trump now with US troopers numbers at decade low

        2. Pak doestnt possess or R&D any significant tech in missiles given by the origins of shaheen and other cruise missiles

        3. ICBM is something, pak cant develop over next 1-2 decades given by abysmal failures by SUPARCO in space technology. The obsolete technologies used in shaheen such as jet vanes, engines are 50-70 era technology

        4. Making a big nuke of big yield and thermo nukes too requires massive R&D, are contained by low R&D budget and bare minimal R&D capacity

        5. Pakistan is not going to get any more new F16 with Lockheed almost certain to move their assembly to India. There is almost no incentive for US to aid pakistani with aircraft while pak has nothing much to offer in returns

        6. Pak americans lag behind in education and technology skills. Very few of them are able to make big names in silicon valley & have very few tech start ups.They are not much relevant to American govt as vote bank.

        • Steve

          Hmmm..a detailed and biased case full of misrepresentations for NOT buying F16, and a comprehensive criticism of Pakistan and Pakistanis in general by an internet Indian trying to pick an argument. Again interfering in inter-Pakistani discussion uninvited. Last time I checked India does not control the US government and categorical statements like you are making are a little better than trolling. Also I sense fear in you that we will get a good fighter that’s ready, to sharpen the tip of the spear like someone else eloquently put it here. Too bad our ambassador has already raised the issue and we are sure to proceed with this. That is what PAF want, and as end users they have the final word rather than baised internet amateurs. India is allowed to be worried and scared and make a fuss and offer the world to Trump. Let’s see how it pans out. Why are you guys so scared of F16’s, we’re supposed to be a lot weaker than you. Even that hero of yours Bakshi was beside himself with screaming outrage last time we got F16’s approved. lol

        • Freebird

          Your biased comment deserves bitter reply: 1. Trump mentioned benefits of preserving allies 2&3. Pak does not need ICBM, it has no problem with anyone else than India 4. R&D do not guarantee success, India for example has higher R&D but defense sector neither meets internal need nor exports defense products 5. f-16v plant in India is another western deal to rip off India just like they did in Rafale deal (recall that other countries buy more f-35 with what India bought Rafale’s) (Pak will eventually get similar upgrade by Turkey with less budget) 6. it is funny to see Indians are proud of brain drain.

          • Steve

            Well said Qasim and Freebird. You probably won’t get a logical response, more likely a numbered list of India boasts dressed up as achievements. MT does not appear to be a commentator. He looks like a RAW clerk sitting in a dusty warehouse somewhere, using a database to flood forums with skewed data and promote India. His ‘Hinglish’ is full of grammatical and punctuation errors and the writing style if you can call it that is typical..lol. Don’t know if Bilal will axe this, but it’s a legitimate comment borne out of observation

        • Qasim57

          I think Pakistan needs to “misbehave”. Trying to please everyone has got us nowhere.

          Just look at India – they’ve massively funded terrorism inside Pakistan, especially since 2007 (sharp rise in terrorism). They use Afghanistan as a “launchpad” to fund groups like the TTP taliban and BLA in Balochistan. And still, amazingly and shamelessly, they accuse Pakistan of terrorism.

          Modi says “India shed tears” when the Army Public School was attacked in Peshawar. These must be Hindutva tears, what with their Chanakya doctrine of deceit dictating how to be all polite and friendly and stabbing people in the back, on your way to the top.

          We have *no* beef with the Afghan resistance. Even the White House spokesperson said in 2016 that they “aren’t a terrorist group”, and are just part of an armed militant struggle. America wants to stay in Afg for no other reason but to “secure Pakistan’s nukes” if and when the opportunity presents.

          We have no interest in playing along in their little blame game, or playing nice with their attempts to destabilise us. America has many different “voices”, and quite often their intelligence agencies have interests quite contrary to their govt. Just look at Syria, the Obama administration and the CIA were both funding different sides in the conflict (Obama was funding “moderate rebels” like Al-Qaeda affiliates, CIA funding and arming CIAsis).

          This schizophrenic system of governance is dangerous and quite war-mongering.

  • Shafiq

    PAF should go for F 16 V upgrade, if it is possible, to keep balance with IAF rafale acquisition.TTis will be the most economical path for us until JF 17 block 3 is available

  • Steve

    Indulging in a competition who can suck up more to the Americans now are we? What happened to the great, powerful, and highly developed India who doesn’t need anyone, especially a sugar daddy lol! When there is the inevitable peace deal the Americans will sit down with all parties and oversee negotiations with the Pakistanis, Russians, and Chinese in an Afghan owned and driven process. Pakistan will of course reap great benefits from this. America will be able to get out after 16 years after declaring victory. India will have a nightmare scenario with their backside kicked out after losing all their investments, and we and the Afghans will be friendly and peaceful again, with all militancy gone from our western border. We and the Afghans will eliminate all the paid and sponsored child killers like TTP. Baluchistan will be rapidly developing and peaceful once more. Central Asia will open up via CPEC. Everyone wins except perhaps the Baniyas lol. I think there will be a good chance of us also getting a nice arms package as conventional deterrence against a dangerous adventure driven by deluded leaders in the eastern neighbor which could lead to catastrophic subcontinental war. The Americans are smart people and listen to critically important countries like Pakistan especially if given an honest partnership and explaining credible realistic scenarios.

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