U.S. Air Force plans $2.8 bln F-16 upgrade

U.S. Air Force plans $2.8 bln F-16 upgrade

ISTANBUL - Reuters
U.S. Air Force plans $2.8 bln F-16 upgrade

File photo of the F-35 Lightning II planes arriving at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The Air Force wants to upgrade its aging F-16,s to offset slow purchases of the F-35. REUTERS photo

The U.S. Air Force said Feb. 2 that it plans a $2.8 billion upgrade of about 350 of its aging F-16 multi-role fighter planes, to help offset slower purchases of the next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The work, running into the 2020s, will extend the service life of select F-16 airframes. Other upgrades include advanced radar, sensors, cockpit display, electronic warfare and communications capabilities, the service said.

“We have worked through the implications of the delays in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program,” Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told the Air Force Association earlier in the day. “And we have made a further commitment this year to modernize about 350 F-16s in the fleet going forward.”

Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokeswoman, said the upgraded F-16s would receive active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. Northrop Grumman and Raytheon build rival systems and are likely to compete for the work.

The Air Force has just over 1,000 F-16s in its current inventory, of which about 640 are Block 40/50s, distributed among active Guard and Reserve components. None has yet undergone the structural “service life extension program” or capability upgrades now planned, the service said.

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