Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $520.4m fixed-price contract modification for Block 70/72 F-16 Viper Shield electronic warfare (EW) suite production being conducted for Foreign Military Sales (FMS) deals, with the systems destined for Bahrain, Bulgaria, Morocco, Slovakia, and Taiwan.  

According to a 2 July 2024, announcement by the US Department of Defense (DoD), the contract modification expands the current long lead materials contract to allow the contractor to begin production tasks, with FMS funding of $177.7m being obligated at the time of the award.

Introduced in 2021, Viper Shield EW is designed to provide protection and offensive EW capabilities on the fourth-generation Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70/72 multirole aircraft.

Software-defined technology components create an electronic shield around the aircraft, revealing digital radar threats and providing countermeasure capabilities in an integrated, internally mounted system.

A key element of the new or upgraded Block 70/72 is the all digital EW capability, intended to protect the aircraft against current and future threats. Credit: L3Harris

All of the recipient countries named in the DoD announcement are either current or future customers of the Lockheed Martin’s F-16 fighter, which is one of the most widely operated air combat platforms in service today.

The first three Block 70 F-16 fighters arrived in Bahrain in March 2024, with a total of 16 aircraft being produced for the small Gulf country. According to GlobalData fleet inventory data, Bahrain operates 20 older Block 40 F-16C/D models, delivered between 1990-2000.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

Meanwhile Morocco operates a mixed fleet of 21 C/D models delivered from 2020-2012 but will upgrade to the Block 70 F-16 Viper in the coming years with a total order for 25 aircraft.

European states Slovakia and Bulgaria are both to be new members of the F-16 family as they upgrade from legacy Soviet/Russian MiG 29 fighters to the F-16 Block 70 Vipers, with 14 and 16 airframes ordered respectively.

Taiwan operates one of the largest F-16 fleets in the world, with 140 A/B delivered between 1992-1999, and a further 66 new F-16V Block 70 fighters on order. Taiwan has also modernised its existing A/B aircraft to the Block 70/72 standard.

Viper Shield EW tests AESA compatibility

In November 2023, L3 Harris, manufacturer of the AN/ALQ-254(V)1 Viper Shield EW suite, revealed it had demonstrated full radio frequency compatibility with the F-16 Block 70/72 fighters’ APG-83 Active Electronic Scanning Array (AESA) radar, at an event conducted at Lockheed Martin’s Systems Integration Lab.

The test saw the exposure of the Viper Shield EW suite with APG-83 energy for more than 12 hours to test whether the radar pulses would interfere with EW functionality. According to L3Harris, the test proved Viper Shield’s ability to filter out signal processing streams from the APG-83 AESA radar pulses without any performance compromise.

Morocco is one of a number of F-16 operators around the world, and is also seeking to modernise its fleet with the Block 70 variant. Credit: USAF

The Drop 2 event marked the second interoperability test for the two systems; the first took place in mid-2022, with similar results.

L3Harris states that the systems has lower lifecycle costs, is more easily upgraded, and has increased reliability and reduced weight. The system is also available to be configured in a pod solution for roll-on/roll-off capabilities.