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U.S. Air Force greenlights F-16 life-extension program
June 25, 2017
An F-16V unit. Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

U.S. Air Force greenlights F-16 life-extension program

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) has authorized a service life-extension program (SLEP) for its Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block-40/42 and Block-50/52.

As per Lockheed Martin, the SLEP would extend the airframe lives of the USAF’s F-16s from 8,000 hours to 12,000 hours, which would keep these F-16s in service through 2048. The company is also studying a follow-on SLEP, though its implementation would be contingent on airframe durability testing.

Lockheed Martin’s vice-president for the F-16 program Susan Ouzts stated, “Combined with F-16 avionics modernization programs like the F-16V, SLEP modifications demonstrate that the Fighting Falcon remains a highly capable and affordable 4th Generation option for [USAF] and international F-16 customers.”

There are 300 F-16s undergoing the F-16V upgrade, which includes the AN/APG-83 active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, in Asia. Lockheed Martin hopes to secure another 500 upgrade orders.

Besides the U.S., there are older Block-40/42/50/52 in service in Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Israel and several other countries. Relatively new Block-50/52 users include Poland, Pakistan, Morocco and Iraq. Turkey is also developing its own long-term upgrade program for its F-16s.

Currently, Lockheed Martin is vying for a $2.7 billion contract for 19 new-built F-16 Block-70/72 to Oman, which the Trump administration has reportedly approved at the end of March. Despite stepping back from a $700 million purchase for eight F-16C/D Block-52 in 2016, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) leadership said it was still engaged with the U.S. about procuring new F-16s.

Notes & Comments:

Lockheed Martin is shifting its F-16 assembly line from Fort Worth in Texas to Greenville South Carolina. With the F-16 slotted to stay in production for the foreseeable future, the USAF’s SLEP program (for an initial batch of 300 aircraft) and F-16V upgrade in place, the F-16 will remain as a factor.

It is not clear if the U.S. will follow-up the SLEP with a subsystems upgrade. The USAF had stepped away from the Combat Avionics Programmed Extension Suite (CAPES), which could have imbued USAF F-16s with some, if not all, of the F-16V’s subsystems, most notably the AESA radar. That said, the SLEP and F-16V would be a comprehensive solution for overseas Block-40/42/50/52 users, which provide an ample capability boost for most F-16 users until 5th-generation fighters become a major factor.

 

  • John Rue

    I thought they were shifting F-16 assembly lines to India. May be if they place order for 100+ birds. They will be better off going for European ones though. Any maker who is awarded contract will setup assembly lines in India.

  • Ash Malik

    Seems our love for the falcon would never end , but Bilal don’t you think this will compromise our JF 17 thunder programme because PAF has to allocate millions of dollars or may be billions to upgrade its block 50/52 contingent..?

    • Shershahsuri

      PAF has just 18 F-16 Block 52 CD.

  • Kashif

    Seems our love for the falcon would never end , but Bilal don’t you think this will compromise our JF 17 thunder programme because PAF has to allocate millions of dollars or may be billions to upgrade its block 50/52 contingent..?

    • The PAF is prioritizing the JF-17 ahead of the F-16, otherwise, it would have inked the purchase for 8 last year.

      • Headstrong

        Not quite, Bilal. Pakistan would have gladly accepted the F 16s if the US had subsidised the sale

        • Zill e Hussnain

          well we would disagree with you, 8 years ago Pakistan air force was mainly working on JF-17 Thunder and old F-16s were getting midlife up gradation in turkey and in 2010 PAF raised the first squadron so it is undeniable evidence about the priorities of PAF, F-16 always used to chop the technical gap, even if America had provided any financial assistance, the JF-17 Thunder and later the Midlife up gradation would have been the major priorities

          • Headstrong

            Ok, if you say so. From what I have read, Pakistan would have given an arm and leg, so to speak, to get the Block 52s. I believe you people are still looking around for second hand F16s, if available, and haven’t even given up on the original subsidised deal.
            If you don’t mind, I remain skeptical.

          • Zill e Hussnain

            ” From what I have read, Pakistan would have given an arm and leg, so to speak, to get the Block 52s” what you are refering to are the wishful thoughs of some fan boys, same as many Indian fan boys back in the day claimed that the Tejas will be battle ready till 2007, official stance is very different, PAF is looking for second hand jets so that they can phase out F-7s and Mirages and complement JF-17 Thunder Block III, that is how deals are struck

          • Headstrong

            It’s pretty evident just who exactly are the fan boys here. Every media report, including those from Pakistan, bemoaned the US withdrawal of the subsidies. Other than trying to divert the issue on to Tejas, nothing you have said refutes my statement. The fact remains – Pakistan cannot (or will not) buy F-16s on its own steam, but only if they are subsidised. If subsidised, they would rather spend money on the F-16s. Now that the US has refused, they are allocating the funds to JF-17.

          • Zill e Hussnain

            I understand whenever the word “Tejas” comes out of Pakistani mouth, it always has a deep impact on your egos, putting that aside, let’s take your arguments on logic, first you used the comments of fan boys to claim that Pakistan would have done everything to get F-16s and later u came down to the point of “if subsidized” well if subsidized than it would have no impact on JF-17 Thunder program, the block II was already near to completion and Block III was already on the table so buying second hand F-16s or through FMF would have no impact on JF-17 thunder program, the block III and other modernization programs were in the pipe line well ahead of American decision for FMF, all of your comments are self-contradicting, you don’t have to be genius to understand that few F-16s could not replace over 300 F-7s and Mirages therefore the Thunder Program always had its funding available, F-16s are just to supplement JF-17 Thunder in the future

          • Headstrong

            Yawn. Read my replies to Bilal

        • Sure, but the PAF could have also paid for that purchase by shifting funds from other programs, such as the JF-17. That was my point.

          • Headstrong

            And my point was that if the subsided offer was available, Pakistan would have preferred to spend the limited funds it has on the F16s

          • Doesn’t change my earlier point. The PAF wasn’t willing to make the trade-off between more F-16s and taking away from the JF-17. That too was an option last year, and the PAF decided against it. In other words, the JF-17 is being prioritized over the F-16.

          • Headstrong

            Only because the subsidy was not made available. If it was, I believe Pakistan would have gone for the F-16s, over allocating the same funds (i.e. Pakistan’s share for the purchase of the F-16s) for the JF-17s.

          • The lack of FMF required the PAF to choose between the F-16s and taking away from the JF-17. This was an option and the PAF could have went ahead with it just as it had before (when it put $1.4bn in sovereign funds for the 18 it currently has). It didn’t. So yes, the PAF would have gone for F-16s if FMF was available, but that FMF would have helped keep multiple programs running. Without the FMF, it was a trade-off, and the PAF picked the JF-17.

      • Qasim57

        Wish we did both, maybe did one less corrupt metro project.

        We intended to have well over a 100 F-16s in the 80s, wish we cross the 100 barrier at the very least. Our current strength isn’t even 5 complete squadrons.

  • Headstrong

    Abhi picture baki hain, dost! It appears pretty clear that with China showing such open hostility, India will turn towards the US even more. And LM has already decided to shut down its sole F16 plant in Air Force Plant 4 in Fort Worth. Expect an announcement in June when Modi visits the US

    • Zill e Hussnain

      well if you think that India will be providing the up radiation and spares for around 500 F-16s in the world in next 5 years thn my friend I feel sorry for it, India is yet to make a decision, a decision which is already delayed, according to the speech of Manohar Parrikar in the parliament, India was supposed to choose a fighter jet under so called ” Make in India” till the end of 2016, well 2016 has long gone and Manohar Parrikar has resigned his post, in Pakistan most of the people have a very strong feeling that it was just another ploy to engage different companies and force them into bargain and deny Pakistan with equipment

      • Headstrong

        The funding for the F16s was denied by the US to Pakistan not because of India, but because it was not convinced that Pakistan was serious about acting against terrorists such as the Haqqani network.
        As for the rest, I can only repeat what I said – abhi picture baki hain

        • Zill e Hussnain

          that was the official statement by the goveronment not the ground reality, just google it and you will easily find the Indian involvement, Haqqani network was just an excuse, the so called “Picture” may see the same fate as many other deals of the past

          • Headstrong

            The funny thing is that all Google searches on the ‘Indian involvement’ only led to Pakistani media 😄
            Whereas all ‘neutral’ media ascribed the US refusal to the ‘excuse’ I had written.

          • Zill e Hussnain

            and even funnier part is that all the Pakistani media reports specifically gave the names of Indian backed Lobbyists influencing Capitol Hill, those individuals had a long history of taking care on Indian interests. On when hand the sangi brigade chants from the depth of their lungs about the victory of successful Indian diplomacy and on other hand we have people like you who are relating it to terrorism and financial constraints, well both are two sides of same coins, one evidently propagating Indian success and other propagating about Pakistan’s failure with very same intentions

    • LM is shifting the plant to South Carolina.

      • Headstrong

        Not if India takes the offer

        • Of course, if only ifs and buts were candies and nuts… and then hilarity ensues.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xl0b2LGf9jM

          • Headstrong

            Many thanks for sharing. With (or without) your best wishes, we’ll get there 🙂 By 2030, Inshallah!

          • Steve

            That video is so delusional it’s unreal. Not even funny but just pathetic. Seems like an Indian made mega fantasy by some guy with more time on his hands than sense. Maybe a Modi sponsored feel-good film! To think that in the next 13 years that country will overcome hundreds of years of backwardness, grinding poverty, no infrastructure worth the name, terrible child mortality and illiteracy rates, a population explosion, and will become so rich and powerful with clean street and sky scrapers everywhere that it will employ Western people in menial tasks (assuming that by some miracle the West is poor by 2030 lol) is just mind boggling. That shows a mindset not an aspiration and is a good insight. It explains some of the behaviour and attitude our cross border friends exhibit on the internet. If population was money China and India would have the highest per capita income (that’s per capita not fake ppp) of all and they don’t and won’t have for next 50 years. If you can’t do it…make a Bollywood film about it lol!!

  • Sami Shahid

    PAC should just get AESA radar and HMD system and should start inducting JF-17 block 3 so that we start replacing our F-16 with Chinese or Turkish stealth Air Crafts.

  • Headstrong

    Okey-dokey. All the best 🙂

  • Amir

    Turkey has never built a fighter plane. Why should we be their guinea pigs. They need to prove to us that they can build a fighter plane let alone a 5th gen one. I agree with some comments here to stick with the Falcon given the investment that the PAF has already made in training, support, technical know how and operational experience.

  • The PAF has 18 Block-52, 40-45 MLU, 13 ADFs (acquired from Jordan).

    • Sami Shahid

      Didn’t Pakistan received a squad of F-16’s block 50-52 from the US ? Didn’t Pakistan purchased a squad of block 50-52 from Jordan ?

  • Aamir

    Jordan never bought blk 50/52. Also Jordan & Urdan are the same country.

  • Steve

    A lot of countries are ordering new build 50/52. We should get in line too. Another 18 should be a good start. They were already approved but the earthquake led to cancellation by us which was a very short sighted decision. Upgrade to V will be a later decision and that can be explored for the existing fleet.

  • Steve

    Is this SLEP for Block 15 too? Those that have gone through MLU?

  • Waqas Ahmed

    @saqrkh:disqus What is the status of JF-17’s Digital Fly by wire can we rate JF-17 FBW with F-16’s FBW

    Thank You

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