The US Government has awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin to upgrade the Republic of China Air Force’s (ROCAF) ageing fleet of 145 General Dynamics-built Block 20 F-16A/B Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft.
Valued at up to $1.85bn, the contract forms part of the $3.8bn arms package approved by the US Congress in September 2011. The package was subsequently agreed by the country’s Ministry of National Defence (MND) in August 2012.
Under the contract, Lockheed will install an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, embedded global positioning system (GPS), and upgrade the aircraft’s electronic warfare and avionics systems.
Lockheed Martin F-16/F-22 Integrated Fighter Group vice president and general manager, Jeff Babione, said the upgrade programme enhances the strong value proposition associated with commonality between the US Air Force’s F-16 programme and the fighter’s customers worldwide.
"Based on elements of the F-16V configuration, Taiwan’s air force will receive the most advanced F-16 upgrades," Babione added.
Unveiled by the company in February 2012, the F-16 Viper features AESA radar, an upgraded mission computer and architecture, and cockpit improvements.
Additional F-16 upgrades include the installation of AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, joint direct attack munition (JDAM) guidance kits, helmet mounted cueing system (JHMCS), inertial navigation system, night vision goggles (NVGs) and the Terma ALQ-213 electronic warfare management system.
Powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 turbofan engines, the F-16 A/B is an initial production variant of the F-16 multirole jet fighter, featuring AIM-7M Sparrow, AIM-9M and P4 Sidewinder, AGM-65 Maverick missiles and Westinghouse AN/APG-66(V)3 fire-control radars.
The jets are currently operated by Taiwan to conduct air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack missions.
Image: A USAF’s F-16 fighter taxies towards the runway at Aero India 2011 in Bangalore. Photo: courtesy of Pritishp333.