rsaf f-16

Lockheed Martin is reportedly close to signing a contract with Singapore for upgrade of its F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft fleet.

Lockheed Martin F-22/F-16 integrated fighter group head Rod McLean was quoted by Defense News as saying: "We should probably announce something by certainly the end of the year, if not earlier, on an upgrade opportunity there.

"Our other customer doesn’t care to have their name mentioned a lot in media. It’s in Southeast Asia, I’ll say that."

A source familiar with the negotiations said the agreement to modernise Singapore’s F-16 fleet was ‘basically a done deal.’

The F-16V upgrade package features an active electronically scanned array radar, upgraded mission computer, as well as enhancements to the mission computer, vehicle systems, aircraft structure, cockpit, and electronic warfare system.

"Lockheed is already competing to modernise South Korea’s F-16s, after the country cancelled a $1.7bn upgrade agreement with BAE Systems in late 2014."

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) operates 60 F-16C/D block 52 aircraft, which were upgraded with Israeli-built electronic warfare systems.

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According to the publication, the presence of Israeli systems raised a doubt whether the company would be able to upgrade the RSAF F-16s as that would require modifications to the systems.

But, the source claimed that the company has ‘found a solution to the problem,’ and that does not pose a hurdle to the discussions.

Lockheed is already competing to modernise South Korea’s F-16s, after the country cancelled a $1.7bn upgrade agreement with BAE Systems in late 2014.

McLean said: "We’re in discussions to finalise that programme. Those discussions are ongoing.

"There have been positives to date. I think we can certainly support their needs.

"I know they are having some budget reviews internally in the Korean Air Force. If they can preserve the funds we feel we should be able to support an upgrade programne for them."

Apart from Singapore and South Korea, the company is also believed to be working to modernise the F-16 fleets of Thailand and Indonesia.

Image: A Republic of Singapore Air Force’s F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Luhai Wong.