Lockheed Martin's F-16V passed a major milestone this week. (Neal Chapman/Lockheed Martin)
WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin has moved forward with a major milestone on its F-16V upgrade, the company announced this week.
The company completed a Critical Design Review to ensure Northrop Grumman’s Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) design has met requirements handed down by the US Air Force. The improved radar capabilities brought by SABR are at the core of the F-16V modification.
“Completing this milestone on schedule demonstrates our ability to meet program commitments,” Roderick McLean, vice president and general manager of the F-16/F-22 Integrated Fighter Group at Lockheed Martin, said in a company statement. “It proves once again why customers turn to Lockheed Martin to upgrade their F-16 fleets and advance the mission capability of the world’s most effective 4th generation multi-role fighter.”
Taiwan is slated to be the first customer to receive the F-16V upgrade. In addition to SABR, the upgrade enhances the electronic warfare suite, mission computer and cockpit.
While Lockheed and US officials insist radar upgrades for Taiwan’s F-16 fleet are still on track, officials in Taiwan have expressed concerns over a US Air Force decision to back out of a major avionics update known as CAPES.
Northrop was selected by Lockheed over competitor Raytheon to provide the radar upgrade in a hotly contested battle. The upgrade market for F-16s, operated by 25 countries, is expected to remain a fertile growth area for companies at a time when new jet production is coming down.
The F-16V will be the most advanced model of the F-16, at a time when the legacy models are showing wear and tear. The US Air Force has ordered all F-16B and D models be checked for damage after a series of cracks grounded over half its F-16D fleet.■