Lockheed Martin has successfully completed more than 27,000 hours of simulated flight time on an F-16C Block 50 aircraft at its full scale durability test (FSDT) facility in Fort Worth.
The company is currently analysing the data in order to determine durability of the aircraft beyond its original design service life of 8,000 hours.
The aircraft was tested to 27,713 equivalent flight hours (EFH) during 32 rounds of comprehensive stress tests.
In addition, the aircraft was subjected to a number of maximum-load conditions in a bid to demonstrate that it still had sufficient strength to operate within its full operational flight envelope, the company stated.
Lockheed Martin F-16 program vice-president Susan Ouzts said: "This should provide even more confidence to current and potential new F-16 customers that the combat-proven F-16 will continue to play a crucial role in international security.
"Ongoing F-16 modernisation programmes, notably the F-16V, will ensure that the F-16 flies, fights and wins well into the future."
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The ongoing teardown inspection and fractography phase of the programme involves the use of test data to identify an extended, definitive flight hour limit for the venerable F-16.
According to Lockheed, the durability test results will support the designing and verification of service life extension programme (SLEP) structural modifications for post-Block 40 F-16s and to support F-16 service life certification to at least 12,000 EFH.
In June, Lockheed announced that its F-16C Block 50 aircraft completed 25,000 hours of simulated flight time, more than the aircraft’s original design service life of 8,000 equivalent flight hours (EFH), proving its safety and durability.
Image: The F-16C Block undergoing 32 rounds of comprehensive stress tests. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.