Conversion Started For 312 Sqn
December 1, 2000
The Volkel based 312 Squadron started MLU conversion on December 1, 2000.
Conversion 311 Squadron Completed
October 31, 2000
Conversion of 311 Squadron was completed October 31, 2000.
First MLU Aircraft For 312 Squadron
October 12, 2000
The first MLU F-16 was delivered to 312 Squadron at Volkel AB. >
New F-16s Delivered For USAF
July 5, 2000
Lockheed Martin delivered the first of six F-16Cs to the USAF. The enhancements include new avionics and cockpit displays — similar to the MLU configuration. Compared to the previous USAF Block-50:
- Modular mission computer (Raytheon)
- Commercial color multifunction displays (Honeywell)
- Color programmable display generator (Honeywell)
- Color airborne video tape recorder (Teac)
- Color cockpit TV sensor (Lockheed Martin Fairchild Systems)
- On-board oxygen generating system (Litton)
The on-board oxygen generating system (OBOGS) replaces the standard liquid oxygen (LOX) system aboard the aircraft.
The MMC and color cockpit are new to USAF but were previously introduced on international F-16s. The baseline configuration for the Block-20 versions delivered to Taiwan and the F-16A/B Mid-Life Update for five European F-16 users (EPAF and Portugal) have these systems. Several other international air forces have, or plan to incorporate, the color cockpit features.
These features also will be included in USAF’s Block-40/50 modification program (called the F-16 Common Configuration Implementation Program) now in development.
Portugal In F-16 Multinational Fighter Program
June 9, 2000
Portugal entered the F-16 Multinational Fighter Program, currently consisting of Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and the United States. The agreement was signed June 9, 2000, during a NATO meeting at ministerial level.
MARS Pod For 315 Sqn
June 6, 2000
On June 6, two F-16AMs of 315 Squadron (85-0136/J-136 and 85-0145/J-145) made their first operational flights using the Medium Altitude Reconnaissance System (MARS). MARS is intended as a replacement for the Orpheus system.
The reconnaissance task of 306 Squadron will be taken over by the Rapid Reaction Force squadrons. 306 Squadron will be transformed into a training unit.
Conversion Started For 311 Sqn
April 1, 2000
The Volkel based 311 Squadron started MLU conversion on April 1, 2000. In the second week of May, the first flights were made. In the next two years, 312 Sqn and 306 Sqn will switch to the F-16M.
Color Cockpit For Singapore
November 30, 1999
The first new production Block-52 F-16C/D aircraft to incorporate color cockpits was delivered to the Republic of Singapore Air Force as part of the Peace Carvin III program.
The aircraft, an F-16C, is the first of 12 new production F-16C/D aircraft for the Republic of Singapore Air Force, under an order that was announced in 1997.
The flat-panel liquid crystal displays were developed as part of the F-16 Mid-Life Update program for Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark for their A/B aircraft, as well as the new production Block 20 aircraft for Taiwan. The U.S. Air Force will incorporate the color displays in its new production Block 50 F-16s, beginning in 2000.
IOC For 323
The status of Initial Operational Capability was reached for 323 Squadron at Leeuwarden Air Base in September 1999. IOC for 313 Squadron is scheduled for April 2000.
Avionics Technician Training Package
The Vega Group was awarded a contract for the delivery of an Avionics Technician Training Package for both the Netherlands and Norway. The UK based company — with offices in the Netherlands — is specialized in computer aided education. The US based Allen Communication will act as sub-contractor.
USAF Block 40/42/50/52 Upgrade
September 3, 1999
LMTAS received a $108m contract for kit deliveries to upgrade 64 USAF Block-50/52 F-16s, with production starting in July 2001. The F-16 Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP) will configure nearly 700 USAF Block 50/52 and Block 40/42 F-16 aircraft with common avionics. Total program value is worth $1.6 billion.
The CCIP configuration includes the following systems:
- Modular Mission Computer
- Color Multifunction Display Set
- Common Data Entry Electronics Unit
- Electronic Horizontal Situation Indicator
- Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS)
- Link 16 Multifunction Information Distribution System (MIDS) Low Volume Terminal with TACAN
- integration of new weapons such as the AIM-9X high-off boresight air-to-air missile and the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM)
In addition, integration of an Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (AIFF) with air-to-air interrogation capability is being included for the 251 Block 50/52 aircraft under a separate contract action that was authorized on August 30, 1999.
After the CCIP modifications, the Block 50/52 and Block 40/42 versions will be essentially interchangeable in terms of cockpit, avionics and weapons capability, except for the pilot’s head-up display unit, the fire control radar, the AIFF and the engines.
The CCIP core avionics and cockpit will also provide commonality with the F-16A/B Mid-Life Update.
LANTIRN Pods Shipped
June 16, 1999
Three LANTIRN targeting systems were delivered to the Royal Netherlands Air Force six days after the contract was awarded on May 7, 1999. The contract included the targeting pods and associated pylons, containers, spares, field support, training and an option for future upgrades. LM reported: "With the RNLAF's critical operational requirements for Operation Allied Force, Electronics & Missiles, with the cooperation of the Dutch government, was able to achieve contract award and delivery of the systems 14 days after being notified of the need for the LANTIRN systems."
Contracts For Northrop Grumman
June 15, 1999
At Le Bourget, France, Northrop Grumman Corporation's Electronic Sensors and Systems Sector (ES3) was awarded three separate contracts to provide APG-66(V)2 MLU radar kits and assorted spares for the F-16A/B aircraft. The contract for 45 kits for Belgium, 25 kits to Portugal, and two for the US was valued at a total of US$25.1 million. Delivery was scheduled to be completed by early 2002. According to Northrop Grumman, over 300 APG-66(V)2 radar kits have already been delivered to the air forces of Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway.
MLU At Paris Air Show
June 7, 1999
Lockheed Martin planned to exhibit an F-16A/B Mid-Life Update (MLU) aircraft from the Royal Norwegian Air Force inventory, on static display — the MLU version's first appearance at Paris.
Orbital-Fairchild Supplies DTS To USAF
May 24, 1999
The Fairchild Defense Division of Orbital Sciences Corporation has been awarded a $16.5 million contract to supply its Digital Terrain System (DTS) to the USAF for its F-16s. It is the same system used to upgrade the EPAF F-16s under MLU.
LANTIRN Operational / New Software In Use
Three MLU upgraded F-16s, equipped with the Lockheed Martin enhanced LANTIRN targeting pod, operated from Amendola Air Base, Italy, in support of NATO operations over Yugoslavia. On September 25, 1997, the RNLAF signed a contract for delivery of 10 Lockheed Martin targeting pods. Delivery of the pods was originally planned to commence in 2001 but was pushed forward.
Software tests for the integration in the Operational Flight Program tests were conducted earlier at Edwards AFB. Minor software modifications were necessary because of the RNLAF's Pylon Integrated Dispenser System (PIDS). The ventral fins were also changed because of heavier turbulence caused by the pod.
The Leeuwarden-based 322 Squadron used the M2 software — M2.2 for the LANTIRN-equipped aircraft — much sooner than anticipated.
On April 28, 1999, during an attack on the airport of Podgorica (Montenegro), 18 Serb helicopters and Galeb aircraft were destroyed using cluster bombs. The AN/AAQ-14 pods were used for the first time.
RADA Signs MOU With Lockheed Martin
March 1, 1999
RADA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Lockheed Martin for the supply of data transfer and maintenance data recording systems for F-16 aircraft. The systems involved are the (1) ADTE (Advanced Data Transfer Equipment) and (2) FACE (for fatigue analysis and avionics health monitoring). FACE also offers the possibility for pilot post flight debriefing system (as in use with the RNLAF). Lockheed Martin will offer the systems as an integral part of sales or upgrades.
MLU Trainers For Royal Danish Air Force
February 15, 1999
The Royal Danish Air Force accepted two F-16 Mid-Life Update unit level trainers (ULTs) from Raytheon, the first to be delivered to a European air force.
Each simulator provides a high-fidelity image generation system, which produces the out-the-window visual scenes and simultaneously supports real-time simulation. Pilots view high-resolution, out-the-window visual scenes on a three-window rear projection display that provides a 120deg horizontal by 30deg vertical field-of-view.
315 Squadron Operational With Upgraded F-16
February 1, 1999
At Twenthe Air Base, 315 Squadron switched to the upgraded F-16. On April 6, 1999 this squadron was deployed with the upgraded F-16 to Amendola as part of the Dutch/Belgian contribution of the Stabilization Force in the Balkans. The Leeuwarden based 322 Squadron was the first squadron to be deployed in Italy with the upgraded F-16.
MMC Software Upgrade
January 25, 1999
LMTAS received a contract for an upgrade for the new Modular Mission Computer (MMC) on F-16s belonging to the US Air Force and the four European Participating Air Forces.
The software provides common capability with Link 16, Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System and AIM-9X. EPAF-unique additions will include a reconnaissance pod system, a missile approach warning system, electronic warfare management system updates, the IRIS-T and the U.S. family of smart weapons (Joint Direct Attack Munition, Joint Stand-Off Weapon, Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser). The AIM-9X and IRIS-T are high-off-boresight air-to-air missiles being developed in the United States and Europe, respectively.
USAF-unique additions will include a new weapon in development, the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile.
The software update is identified as M3/M3+, with M3 designating the EPAF version and M3+ for the USAF version. The next major update is designated M4/M4+. Flight testing of the M3 version starts in March 2001, and M3+ flight testing starts in November of that year. Flight testing will be conducted at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Both versions will go through several iterations during development and will be fielded in September 2003.
Additional Belgian MLU Kits
January 22, 1999
On January 22, 1999, the Belgian Air Force ordered 18 additional F-16A/B Mid-Life Update kits, valued at $46 million. Delivery of the kits is scheduled to begin in March 2002 and complete in June 2003. The kits will be installed by SABCA in Belgium.
The buy brought the Belgian MLU total to 110 aircraft kits and total program orders to 360 kits, including the US Air Force flight test aircraft. The European Participating Air Forces exercised all kit options.
MLU Kits For Portugal
December 4, 1998
Portugal signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) on November 30, 1998, for 25 F-16 aircraft and 20 upgrade kits. The Portuguese will receive 21 F-16As and four two-seat F-16Bs, of which 20 (16 As and all the Bs) will be upgraded extensively, and the five remaining F-16As will be used to generate spares.
In 1994 Portugal acquired 20 new F-16A/Bs under the Peace Atlantis program. The new delivery is designated Peace Atlantis II. Total value US$ 268 million, including aircraft shipment, modification kits, logistics support and training.
The new acquired F-16s will receive three major modifications:
- Falcon UP structural upgrade.
- F100-PW-220E engine upgrade.
- F-16A/B Mid-Life Update.
The new modifications will bring the Portuguese aircraft to the same configuration common with the other European allies The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Norway. The first two aircraft in the Lead-The-Fleet program will be modified by LMTAS personnel in 2001. All modifications will be done in Portugal. With a capacity for four aircraft at a time, the last aircraft is scheduled for completion in 2003.
Other upgrades to the Portuguese aircraft include a night identification light, dedicated electronic warfare MUX bus, additional chaff/flare dispensers, plus provisions for an internal missile warning system and a flight analyzer/air combat evaluation/voice and data recorder.
Honeywell Awarded F-16 Avionics Upgrade
September 7, 1998
Honeywell Defense Avionics Systems was selected by Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems to develop the 4" x 4" color multi-function display system as part of the Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP) for the US Air Force. Under a $20 million contract it will also upgrade the display generator with a faster processor, increase the number of 1553 channels and use Honeywell's newly developed image processing module with its expanded graphics capability.
The new displays replace the F-16's existing monochrome, cathode ray tube displays with 4" x 4" color, active matrix, liquid crystal displays (AMLCDs). In addition to being more reliable, AMLCDs weigh less, use less power and are easier to see in bright sunlight than CRTs.
Upgrades slated for CCIP include the Link 16 multifunctional information distribution system, the joint helmet-mounted cueing system and a modular mission computer as well as the color multifunction displays. The program will facilitate logistics, training and deployment of the F-16.
Modernization F-16 Frozen
The Dutch government decided to delay investments in several modernization programs for the Air Force F-16 and Navy PC-3 due to agreements on a FL 375 million budget cut.
Helmet-Mounted Cueing Demonstrated
July 13, 1998
A Helmet-Mounted Cuing System was flight demonstrated on a Dutch F-16B aircraft at Leeuwarden Air Base, the Netherlands, during a series of tests. The purpose of the demonstration was to use existing equipment to define future requirements for a HMCS for F-16A/Bs flown by European air forces. HMCS provisions are included in the MLU modification.
The demonstration involved 18 flights in 12 days. Three different helmet-mounted displays were used:
- Honeywell Look and Shoot
- GEC VIPER I
- GEC VIPER IV
The Honeywell helmet was similar to the one used in the "Look and Shoot" demonstration program that launched two Raytheon Box Office II high-off-boresight missiles from an F-16 in 1994.
The evaluation pilots were able to acquire targets easier, faster, and at high angles off the nose of the aircraft as opposed to currently fielded capability that limits off-angle operation to the head-up display, or about 10-20 degrees off the nose. This target acquisition works both ways, i.e., slaving a sensor after a visual acquisition by the pilot and cuing the pilot where to look for a tracked target. The pilot with the HMD and high-off-boresight missile was able to quickly point and shoot and to maintain good overall situation awareness in a dynamic, multi-target environment without having to aggressively maneuver his own aircraft.
Similarly, on air-to-ground missions, the HMCS was used to acquire targets at high angles off the nose and to slave weapon seekers to this line of sight. Once locked on, the HMCS helped the pilot to visually reacquire targets or a set of coordinates. With the aid of the F-16’s precision navigation system (RLG INS, Global Positioning System, Digital Terrain System and master navigation filter), the pilots were able to accurately designate and store coordinates of points of interest on the ground for future reference.
In addition to evaluating the utility of the HMCS, the pilots evaluated features such as comfort, fields of view, symbology and declutter options.
This project was a multinational effort in several respects. The evaluation flights were conducted by pilots from each of the four F-16 European Participating Air Forces. Industry participants included Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems, GEC Avionics, and Honeywell (HMCS electronics and displays), Bodenseewerk Geratetechnik GmbH (IRIS high-off-boresight air-to-air missile seeker), and Nationaal Lucht- en Ruimtevaartlaboratorium (real-time telemetry and integration assistance).
"It was impressive to see the teamwork that completed this complex effort in such a short time, " said Bob Elrod, Vice President of the F-16/F-2 Production Business Group at Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems. "The results will be a valuable aid to the EPAF’s decision making process over the next several months." The decision to incorporate the HMCS capability into the third version of the F-16A/B MLU software is expected in the third quarter of this year.
Delft Sensor Systems selected for CITS
July 13, 1998
Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems and the Dutch/Belgian Delft Sensor Systems of Belgium recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) regarding manufacturing and sale of the Close Air Support Integrated Targeting System (CITS).
CITS is used by air controllers on the ground to provide accurate and timely targeting data to aircraft. It consists of an optical sight, electronic compass, laser range finder, a global positioning system (GPS), a lap top computer and a radio. Lockheed Martin introduced the system as Longbowman in late 1980s and in 1996 two USAF Block-40 squadrons stationed in Aviano, Italy, were modified in project Sure Strike. The MLU F-16s will receive the capability in near future.
Delft has developed a Mini-laser Portable Rangefinder (MPR) for forward artillery observation for the Dutch and Belgian armies and plans to use this technology in the CITS. Delft will also produce the night vision electro-optical sight and will integrate the complete system in its factory outside Oudenaarde, Belgium. The company was one of the original European companies involved in the production of the EPAF F-16s.
IOC For 322
July 1, 1998
The status of Initial Operational Capability was reached for 322 Squadron at Leeuwarden Air Base. The squadron was the first to switch to the renewed F-16 after its extensive modernization program. Later this year, MLU F-16s will participate in a Red Flag exercise. In October 1998 322 will take the F-16AM/BM to Villafranca for participation in Operation JOINT GUARD.
LMTAS to Develop Major F-16C/D Upgrade
June 23, 1998
LMTAS was awarded a contract to begin Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) of the Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP) for the USAF's F-16C/D fleet.
The avionics changes consist of Link 16 Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS), Joint Helmet-Mounted Cuing System (JHMCS), commercial expanded programmable display generator, color multifunction display set, modular mission computer, mux loadable data entry display set and an electronic horizontal situation display. The package contains a number of systems incorporated into European F-16s in the F-16A/B Mid-Life Update program.
Eventually, almost 700 Block 40 and 50 USAF F-16s will be upgraded through 2005. Flight testing was scheduled for 2001.
Helmet-Mounted Cuing Demonstrated
June 13, 1998
A Helmet-Mounted Cuing System (HMCS) was flight demonstrated on a Dutch F-16B aircraft at Leeuwarden AB. The test involved 18 flights during 12 days, including air-to-air and air-to-ground operations. Three Helmet-Mounted Displays were used:
- Honeywell: Look and Shoot
- GEC Marconi: Viper I
- GEC Marconi: Viper IV
The target acquisition works both ways: (a) slaving a sensor after visual acquisition by the pilot and (b) cuing the pilot where to look for a tracked target. In air-to-ground, the HMCS assisted the pilot in visually re-acquire targets or a set of coordinates. With the aid of the F-16'S nav system (RLG INS, GPS, Digital Terrain System) the pilots were able to accurately designate and store coordinates of points of interest.
Missions were flown by pilots of all four EPAF nations. The tests involved representatives of Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems, GEC Marconi, Honeywell, as well as Bodensee Geradetechnik (IRIS high off-boresight air-to-air missile seeker) and Nationaal Lucht- en Ruimtevaartlaboratorium (real-time telemetry). A decision to incorporate the HMCS capability into the third version of the F-16A/B MLU software is expected in the third quarter of the year.
RNLAF MLU F-16 Officially Presented
June 11, 1998
The modernized Mid-Life Update F-16 has been presented at Leeuwarden Air Base on Thursday, 11 June 1998.
Taiwan Selects Pathfinder And Sharpshooter
June 10, 1998
Taiwan will sign a contract for delivery of 28 Pathfinder navigation pods and Sharpshooter targeting pods for its Block-20 MLU F-16s. The contract with Lockheed Martin is worth $160 million.
Additional sales may occur as Taiwan is obtaining 150 new F-16s under a 1992 order, about 80 of which have been delivered.
June 3, 1998
At Leeuwarden Air Base on June 11, 1998, the modernized F-16 MLU will be officially presented nineteen years after the first F-16 was delivered to the RNLAF.
A Dutch detachment with six F-16s will participate in Red Flag, Nevada, US. In January 1999 the modernized F-16 will be deployed to participate in NATO operations over former Yugoslavia.
According to LMTAS, about 40% of the MLU kits ordered by the Europeans have been delivered. A follow-on order for 32 kits is expected soon, with a further option for 34 kits. Portugal is close to ordering 20 upgrade kits for ex-USAF F-16s it is acquiring, and could buy 25 more.
Thailand and Venezuela are interested in updating their F-16s, LMTAS says.
Europe Evaluates Requirements
The European MLU partners are evaluating software upgrades that include improvements for short- range air-to-air missiles, helmet-mounted sight, and a missile warning system. Lockheed Martin hopes for a quick decision, to meet the deadline for the definition of next year's new software release for the F-16 MLU. A similar software upgrade is also planned for the USAF Block-50 F-16s, that also use the MLU Modular Mission Computer.
European MLU F-16s are delivered with the M1 software. The M2 software is already defined and will be released in late 2000. Definition of the M3 software — due in 2003 — is expected in July 1998. In that release the USAF intends to include improvements for the Ratheon AIM-9X missile, Joint Helmet-Mounted Cuing System, and the Common Missile Warning System. The Europeans are still evaluating their M3 requirements.
Flight tests with a GEC Marconi Hazeltine helmet-mounted display and a Northrop Grumman missile warning system are being conducted in Europe to help define requirements. The AIM-9X is evaluated against the Matra BAe Dynamics ASRAAM and German BGT IRIS-T missiles.
RNLAF Drops First LGBs Ever
February 25, 1998
For the first time ever laser guided bombs were dropped by MLU upgraded F-16s. On February 25, 1998, two RNLAF F-16s dropped one laser guided bomb (LGB) each on a single target at Cornfield Range in the north of the Netherlands. The experiment also included testing the false warning rate of a Missile Approach Warning System during the actual release of a bomb. During the experiment, the aircraft relied on a ground based laser team including two British members. After the introduction of the targeting pods with the Mid-Life Update, the RNLAF F-16s can illuminate their own targets and do no longer need to rely on other air forces.
The first production F-16A/B Mid-Life Update (MLU) aircraft for the RNLAF has been delivered to Leeuwarden in September 1997.
Ten aircraft were expected to have been delivered from the MLU "production line" at Woensdrecht AB by December 1997 when the first squadron, 322, was due to to begin conversion and is expected to achieve initial operational capability (IOC) on the MLU aircraft by July 1998. The remaining six RNLAF F-16 squadrons will progressively convert to the upgraded aircraft, the next being 315 followed by 323, 313, 306, 311, and finally 312 Squadron which will receive the last of the 138 RNLAF MLU aircraft and should achieve IOC in October 2001.
First AMRAAM Fired
December 12, 1997
A Danish F-16B assigned to the F-16 Combined Test Force at Edwards AFB successfully launched an AIM-120 AMRAAM at Eglin AFB on December 12, 1997. The aircraft is one of the MLU test platforms and was flown by Capt. Jens Petersen, the Danish project test pilot, along with Maj. Pleun Troost, a Dutch test pilot on the program. The launch was the first F-16 AMRAAM firing conducted by an international customer.
Two unmanned targets were separated 3 nautical miles horizontally and 4,000 feet vertically at medium altitude and on a reciprocal course to the F-16 shooter at 9,000 feet altitude One live missile was fired and a captive carry missile was used to simulate the launch of a second missile. The missiles were launched near maximum range, and, at a specified distance, both targets executed 4g "F-pole" evasive maneuvers turning 40 degrees away and changing altitudes. One of the drones climbed to 14,000 feet and the other descended to 1,200 feet.
[Photo: Lockheed Martin]
RNLAF Major Troost/RDAF Captain Petersen
This test confirmed the new multi-target intercept capability of the MLU configured F-16A/B weapon system, which is compatible with that being incorporated into the latest production of Block-50/52 F-16C/Ds.
The AMRAAM launch was a conclusion to a very successful development test and evaluation (DT&E) and operational test and evaluation (OT&E) MLU flight test efforts totaling over 900 sorties and 1,300 flight hours using nine aircraft from the five participating NATO countries involved.
Possibly MLU kits For Portugal
November 10, 1997
The US Department of Defense has announced a possible sale to the government of Portugal of 20 Mid-Life Update kits for Portugese Air Force F-16A/Bs, including training and technical and logistic support. The estimated cost is $185 million. The upgrade kits are not for the existing 20 new-build aircraft received in 1994, but for installation on inventory aircraft they are receiving from the US government.
MLU Enters Decisive Phase
October 8, 1997
A decisive stage has been reached in the MLU Operational Test and Evaluation at Leeuwarden AB, Netherlands. OT&E is running almost concurrently with the MLU Development Test and Evaluation (DT&E) program at Edwards AFB, California. After testing 3 consecutive releases of the Operational Flight Program (OFP) both at Edwards and Leeuwarden both teams are conducting flight trials with the fourth and last of the development tapes, designated F04. This "clean-up" tape includes no new functions but error corrections of errors previously found. This clean tape will result in the first production OFP release M1, expected in March 1998. Until then, all production MLU aircraft are being delivered with an interim F03D (Tape 3D) software.
The test phase at Leeuwarden has had its fair share of problems, especially with the MMC ceasing to function properly or altogether. But many of the problems have been solved, also due to cooperation with DT&E at Edwards.
Key items left in Tape 4 testing include correction of an AMRAAM datalink hiccup in the upgraded APG-66(V)2 radar and a time- synchronization problem between the Norwegian Kongsberg Penguin anti-ship missile and the MLU's inertial nav unit. The AMRAAM problem is expected to be solved during the live firing of an AMRAAM missile later this year. Live firing of a Penguin missile was also planned, but this has been changed in favor of a captive launch simulation test flight from Bodo, Norway.
In tactical evaluation missions to be flown this year, emphasis will be on fighter escort and close air support tactics. Subsequently, offensive counter air missions will be flown in integrated scenarios. The Danish and the Dutch have started training an initial cadre of flight and weapons instructors. The first RNLAF squadron to convert will be 322 Squadron at Leeuwarden, which is planned to reach operational capability July 1998. The leading RDAF unit will be 723 Squadron at Aalborg. Norway will have six aircraft ready when the OT&E is finished; Belgium's initial MLU unit will be 349 Squadron at Kleine-Brogel, which will start conversion during the second half of 1998. Under current plans, 20 EPAF squadrons will be equipped by 2002. A decision for conversion of Belgium's tactical reconnaissance unit (1 Squadron at Florennes) is expected in 1998.
Taiwan Deploys F-16/MLU
October 8, 1997
Taiwan is due to deploy its first operational squadron of F-16 Mid-Life Update fighters this month, military sources in Taipei have revealed. Currently, 24 of 150 aircraft seem to have been delivered.
RNLAF Navigation / Targeting Pod Selection (2)
September 25, 1997
The contract for delivery of 60 GEC-Marconi Hazeltine Atlantic (FLIR) navigation pods and 10 Lockheed Martin Enhanced LANTIRN targeting pods has been signed. (See previous.)
Delivery of the Atlantic pod will commence in July 1999, delivery of the LANTIRN pod is expected to commence in 2001.
Electronic Intelligence Sensor (ELINT) systems may be purchased in near future. With it the RNLAF can gather Order of Battle information without being dependent on other air forces, like the USAF. Studies are currently being conducted. A few years back the RNLAF gained its first experience by evaluating the Thomson CSF (France) ASTAC ELINT pod together with other NATO air forces.
Additional Danish F-16B
The Royal Danish Air Force appears to suffer from F-16 aircrew shortage and training of replacement crews is being troubled by a shortage of F-16Bs. The RDAF has less than 10 F-16Bs available following the crash of an F-16B in the UK in December last year and the commitment of another to the MLU DT&E at Edwards AFB, USA. A replacement F-16B has been purchased and will be amongst the first aircraft to be MLU modified.
RNLAF Receives First Production Aircraft
The RNLAF received the first production F-16 MLU aircraft at Leeuwarden AB at the end of September. The aircraft has initially been assigned to the Operational Test & Evaluation (OT&E) team pending the start of the conversion of 322 Squadron in December 1997. Initial operational capability is scheduled to be reached in July 1998.
Once upgraded, MLU aircraft are designated Block-20 aircraft, although the modifications bring the aircraft almost up to F-16C/D Block-50 standard.
First AMRAAM To Be Fired
After six years of development under a US/European program an AIM-120 AMRAAM will be fired at two target drones at Eglin in October in a multiple-shot scenario. Only one missile will be fired but an Integrated Test Vehicle (ITV) pod will simulate a second missile. The targets will be separated approximately 3 nm horizontally and 4,000 ft vertically and both will execute evasive 4g F-pole turns at a specific distance.
The two-target profile and look-down AMRAAM shot will put MLU avionics and software on test. Due to budget restrictions, this will be the only live firing test under the MLU development program. The test will mark the first time an AMRAAM fired from a European F-16.
Norway Evaluates MAWS
The Norwegian air force evaluates the Northrop Grumman AN/AAR-65(V) imaging ultra-violet Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS) for use on F-16/MLU aircraft. The system is under evaluation under European weather conditions to evaluate false-alarm and clutter-rejection and test results will be compared to test results of the manufacturer. These test results will be made available to the Dutch and Danish air forces as well. Decisions for a possible procurement will be made in a later stadium.
Northrop Grumman will integrate the passive, imaging ultra-violet AN/AAR-65 into a self-protection suit suitable for the MLU. Six sensors will be mounted on underwing pylons, three in each of two Per Udsen Pylon-Integrated Dispenser Systems (PIDS) and controlled by the Terma Elektronic Electronic Warfare Management System. Threat data will be displayed on the existing standard ALR-69 Radar Warning Receiver indicator and alert data will be sent to the ALE-40 counter-measures dispensers. The Northrop Grumman ALQ-162 RF counter-measures system, with pulse-Doppler upgrade, will be installed in one of the pylons. Antenna testing at the USAF's Rome Laboratory will verify coverage with different combinations of equipment on the pylons.
The test program is to be completed in early 1998.
The US Department of Defense has awarded a US$10.4 million modification to a fixed-price contract to Westinghouse Electric Corp. to provide 26 line items of Mid-Life Update (MLU) production spares needed for the AN/AP-66(V)2 fire control radar on the F-16 aircraft. The work will be performed at Westinghouse Electric Corp. in Baltimore (69%) and Thomson-CSF Electronics Belgium in Tubize, Belgium (31%). The contract is expected to be completed by June 1998. This contract, which supports Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway, covering the European F-16 nations' Mid-Life Update program, is expected to be completed in June 1998.
Bahrain Wants F-16/MLU
11 July 1997
The Government of Bahrain has approached the US government to purchase 20 F-16A/Bs with Mid- Life Update modification kits, Falcon-Up structural modification or 10 F-16C/D aircraft, fitted with the Pratt & Whitney 220E engine upgrade or General Electronic 110 engines. The estimated value of the potential purchase order is $303 million. Bahrain already has F-16 Block 40 aircraft in its inventory; further purchase of F-16s would enhance Bahrain's interoperability with US Forces in the region.
The F-16A/B mid-life update modification kit consists of: A Central Core Computer, Block 50 cockpit design, Digital Terrain System, Global Positioning System, APG-66(V2) radar upgrade, Integrated data modem, Microwave landing system and night capabilities, Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (AIFF).
Bahrain's purchase order for F-16A/B or F-16C/D aircraft is to increase Bahrain's small fighter inventory, and in due course replace their ageing fleet of F-5 aircraft. The F-16 Fighting Falcon gained its battle proven record in 69 air-to-air combat engagements during Desert Storm, and more recently it has been the USAF's workhorse during Operation Deny Flight over the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. Its multi-mission capabilities and high performance has made it the first choice for the air forces of 19 nations.
RNLAF Acquiring MAWS
The Dutch MoD announced plans to equip 108 F-16s with passive Missile Approach Warning Systems between 1999 and 2003, as a protection against incoming infra-red guided missiles. In a NLG 52 million (US$ 28.8 million) project, pylon-mounted systems will be procured, ideally in cooperation with Norway and Denmark. Both other countries have plans to introduce MAWS between 1998 and 2001.
New USAF F-16C/Ds with Latest A/B Updates
The US government's 1997 order for 6 Block-50 F-16C/D aircraft will incorporate systems which have previously been included only in Mid-Life Update F-16A/Bs for European air forces. Lockheed said the F-16Cs will be fitted with Honeywell color Multi-Function Displays, Texas Instruments Modular Mission Computers, digital terrain systems, coulour Head Up Displays, color video camera, triple-deck color video recorders and other systems. The aircraft are expected to be delivered in 2000. The aforementioned MLU features have also been included by the USAF in its Fighter Configuration Plan (FICOP) to upgrade in-service F-16C/Ds.
RNLAF Navigation / Targeting Pod Selection (1)
The RNLAF has selected 60 GEC-Marconi Hazeltine Atlantic (FLIR) navigation pods and 10 Lockheed Martin (Electronics and Missiles) Enhanced LANTIRN targeting pods (total of $90 million) for use on MLU modified F-16s. Approval by the Dutch parliament is expected in October 1997. Delivery of the Atlantic pod will start in July 1999, delivery of the LANTIRN pod before April 2001. Israel's Rafael has also been competing, offering its Litening navigation/laser-designation pod. (This pod is expected to enter service with the Israeli air force by early 1998.)
Delft Sensor Systems will act as the main subcontractor for Atlantic, perform system integration and testing, and provide long-term support. Signaal USFA will manufacture the thermal camera and cooling engine, with Frencken fabricating the pod structure.
USAF Incorporating MLU technology in F-16C
17 June, 1997
At the Paris Airshow Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems announced that Honeywell Defense Avionics Systems would produce the active-matrix, liquid-crystal color displays as well as an enhanced version of the F-16's programmable display generator for the USAF F-16C. Defense Avionics Systems commenced production of display systems for Lockheed Martin's F-16 in 1981. Honeywell first produced the current color AMLCDs in March 1996 as part of the F-16 mid-life update for Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands and for new F-16Cs Lockheed Martin is providing for Taiwan.
An agreement was reached between LMTAS and the USAF to incorporate color multi-function displays, the modular mission computer, and the digital terrain system — developed for the Mid-Life Update program. The fiscal '97 aircraft will be equipped with the color video camera, the color triple-deck video recorder, the upgraded data transfer unit, and the enhanced version of the F-16's programmable display generator.
F-16s will comprise more than 50 percent of the Air Force's multirole fighter fleet until at least the year 2020, even with the introduction of the Joint Strike Fighter beginning around 2008, according to Lockheed Martin.
Taiwan's First F-16s
10 April 1997
The first two F-16 fighter jets that Taiwan has purchased from the United States will arrive in Taiwan in a week. The F-16 MLU fighters are to fly across the Pacific from the US and are scheduled to arrive in Taiwan on April 15. Taiwan forged an agreement with the US in 1992 to purchase 150 F-16 A/B fighters as part of its military modernization efforts. One of the two planes built by the Lockheed Martin company is a single-seater and will be piloted by a Lockheed Martin employee, while the other, a two-seater, will be flown by ROC Air Force Lt. Col. Hau Kuang-ming, who will be the leader of the first F-16 squadron, with a Lockheed Martin employee as co-pilot. The 150 F-16's, 130 single-seaters and 30 two-seaters, will be deployed at air bases in Chiayi, central Taiwan and Hualien, eastern Taiwan.
In addition to the US-made fighters, the ROC Air Force will commission the first wing of its locally developed IDF (Indigenous Defense Fighters). Altogether, Taiwan will have 130 IDF's, or "Ching-kuo" fighters as they are also known, after late President Chiang Ching-kuo. The 150 F-16's, 130 IDF's, together with 60 Mirage 2000 fighters that Taiwan has purchased from France, will make up the backbone of the air force, and will allow the phasing out of the aging F-5 and F-104 fighters which are currently in operation. Delivery of the French-made fighters is expected to begin later this year.
It is likely that after the Mid-Life Update the RNLAF F-16s will receive a limited capabilities for Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) operations. There are serious plans for purchasing a new anti-radiation missile in 1998. The choice is yet unclear as a choice has to be made between the Matra BAe Dynamics ALARM and the Raytheon/Texas Instruments AGM-88 HARM.
Usage of the ARM missile on post-MLU F-16 requires a change in the software. This change is being implemented in the current software in negotiation with all other MLU partners.
Acquisition of a SEAD capability by the RNLAF is a result of the NATO planning process. Currently, about 30 squadrons are being offered to NATO's Reaction Force (RF). Of these, 13 operate the F-16 and only two have the disposal of SEAD capabilities (United States and Germany). In total, 9 countries have been asked to acquire a SEAD capability.
Contract For AGM-65
February 28, 1997
Hughes Missile Systems Company (HMSC) has received contracts at a total value of US$ 11 million for Infrared (IR) Maverick missiles.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) has awarded HMSC a contract for 36 AGM-65G Maverick missiles, marking the first direct commercial sale of IR Maverick. The contract is valued at more than $6 million.
The RNLAF also ordered two guidance and control systems, some training missiles, and various support equipment and spares. Under the contract, HMSC also will provide pilot and maintenance training. Work will be performed in Tucson.
Interim Recce System
Evaluation tests have started with four Medium-Altitude Reconnaissance System (MARS) pods, for F-16s of 306 reconnaissance squadron. MARS is expected to provide interim medium-level recce capability, replacing the current Orpheus pod until a new system is selected and introduced into service in 1999. The pod uses the Per Udsen Reconnaissance Pod, fitted with Recon Optical KS-87B wet-film cameras taken from the USAF RF-4C. Three of the pods will be used for operations from Villafranca in support of NATO operations over Bosnia. The other pod will be used to evaluate sub-systems as part of the Orpheus replacement program. Requirements include electro-optical (EO) daylight as well as infra-red sensors, and a datalink.
Cooperation Rada And NLR
The Israeli RADA Electronic Industries and the Dutch NLR have reached an agreement on cooperation.
NLR and RADA have cooperated in the past in the development and implementation of FACE at the Royal Netherlands Air Force. Pursuant to the Royal Netherlands Air Force order, there are 140 FACE systems currently being installed on board its F-16A/B which are being upgraded under the Mid-Life Update project. In addition, the FACE system is now integrated in the crash proof data recorder of the aircraft under Lockheed Martin Purchase Order. In both projects RADA is supported by NLR.
Clearance Extra Belgian F-16s
February 12, 1997
In its 1997-1999 defense plan the Belgian government has authorized Mid-Life Update modifications on an additional batch of 24 operational F-16A/Bs of the Belgian Air Force, in addition to the 48 for which approval already has been granted on July 29, 1993 (72 aircraft in total). Work on the program will be done by the Belgian SABCA, which licensed-built all 160 Belgian aircraft.
In 1991 the political decision was made to reduce the number of aircraft to be allocated to the NATO support role from 144 to 72. As a result of this, a further 35 F-16s that were planned for sale are held in storage at Weelde. It is possible that they will be kept as sources of spare parts for the operational aircraft in service until 2010. After 1998, a decision on the remaining 18 aircraft is expected.
The Belgian Air Force will also procure the Hughes AGM-65G Maverick, and medium altitude reconnaissance cameras to
equip their Per Udsen pods.
Additional Danish F-16s
November 12, 1996
The RDAF will receive four former USAF F-16s, presently located at Arizona, for a price of DKK 267 million. These additional F-16s — that will be submitted to MLU — will bring the total number of Danish F-16s to 70.
Upgrade Kits Delivered
November 12, 1996
The first Lockheed Martin Mid-Life Update (MLU) production kits have been delivered ahead of scheduled delivery, marking the start of the production phase of the MLU program.
Under the MLU program more than 300 early model F-16A/B aircraft will be modified to the most advanced, leading edge multirole capability. Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway are the participating countries in the MLU program. In addition, the United States Air Force participated fully in the development phase.
The modification kits for the first five production aircraft contain almost 60,000 parts. The parts are accumulated at SABCA in Belgium and then shipped in 4x4x8 foot wooden containers to the various air force depots in Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway. The parts are for the first five of over 300 aircraft to receive the production kits. "The MLU program involves coordination between Lockheed Martin and a multitude of domestic and international suppliers," notes David Wesolka, Director of EPG Programs at LMTAS. "In addition, variations on each of the kits meet the specific requirements of each country. We not only compressed the original time frame by six months at the request of the customer, but we did it and still made an early delivery. This is truly an impressive accomplishment."
"The schedule for the MLU Program is based on concurrency of trial and verification programs and manufacture and delivery of parts," Wesolka continues. "The fact that we were able to complete the testing and delivery to meet the shortened timeframe is a testament to the relationship we have built over many years of working with our international partners."
Two more deliveries are scheduled this year — five in November and four in December. Production kit deliveries currently on contract will end in May 2000. The first production aircraft will be flying in the spring of 1997.
Currently nine MLU development aircraft are flying as part of development test and evaluation at Edwards AFB, California, and operational test and evaluation at Leeuwarden AB, the Netherlands.
The MLU program to date has been successful in terms of schedule, support and cost. "This delivery is a significant event because it signifies the completion of a successful development program," explains Lt Col Rene Demortier, the Belgian Air Force program manager for MLU. "The delivery also marks the beginning of the production phase of the program. Now we are looking forward to the middle of next year, when production MLU aircraft will be rolling out of depots."
The MLU program includes a modular mission computer that replaces three previous aircraft computers; advanced identification friend or foe; updated cockpit, including color multi-functional displays, night vision capabilities and an improved head-up display; digital terrain system; improved APG-66 radar; improved data modem; electronic warfare management system; and global positioning system.
Radar Tests Completed
October 31, 1996
Northrop Grumman's Electronic Sensors and Systems Division has successfully completed Development Test & Evaluation of its AN/APG-66(V)2 airborne radar in the Netherlands as part of the European Participating Governments' F-16A/B Mid-Life Update program. The program will upgrade 48 Belgian, 61 Danish, 136 Dutch, and 56 Norwegian F-16 APG-66 radars to the new configuration, which features a newly developed signal processor with faster data throughput, higher transmit power, greater sensitivity, and wider dynamic range. Testing at Leeuwarden Air Base is now focusing on Operational Test & Evaluation, in which the European pilots will develop operational tactics using the new radar and avionics systems.
LANTIRN For The Dutch
The configuration of LANTIRN night vision pods planned for the Dutch F-16 Mid-Life Update (MLU) program took flight for the first time in September aboard an advanced version of the US Air Force F-16D.
The testing got underway at the Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
A Block-50 F-16, with a cockpit display virtually identical to that of the Dutch MLU aircraft, carried a LANTIRN targeting pod with electro-optical and television sensors; and a LANTIRN Pathfinder navigation pod with a Laser Spot Locator. Flights included day and night imaging operations.
A team of 12 engineers and support personnel from E&M were on hand for the maiden voyage. "The mission went extremely well," said Jerry Garman, Netherlands Flight Test Demonstration program manager. "We were very pleased with the performance of the system."
This was the first time the enhanced LANTIRN Pathfinder system was flight tested. A television sensor was added to the targeting pod and a Laser Spot Locator to the Pathfinder for the competition.
"The addition of a television sensor and Laser Spot Locator will provide the Dutch Air Force improvements on the existing LANTIRN, which is already acknowledged as the world's best night attack system," said Garman. "The speed with which we have incorporated such changes points out the enormous flexibility of this system."
Television adds a visual dimension to the system's impressive infrared band imagery. A Laser Spot Locator enables pilots to coordinate attacks with target designators on other aircraft or on the ground.
The flight test was a prelude to the Dutch on-site flight demonstration on September 16-19. Two Dutch Air Force pilots and one flight engineer were on-site to "test drive" the system as part of the competitive proposal submitted in July. "Fly-offs are becoming more common in the international competitive process as countries lean toward off-the-shelf systems to reduce development costs," said Garman.
A side-by-side ground testing in the Netherlands with all three competitors and their sensor systems is planned for October 14-18. At that point, the system performance and characteristics of the Lockheed Martin LANTIRN Pathfinder will be pitted against the Rafael Litening and GEC-Marconi Hazeltine Atlantic systems. "We have been working with the Netherlands for the last eight years in anticipation of this contract," said Garman. "We are very confident our system will prove itself." Contract award is expected in March 1997.
LANTIRN (Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared system for Night) enables fighter pilots to fly beneath enemy radar in total darkness at speeds exceeding 500 mph, and destroy several targets on the first pass.
The system was developed by Lockheed Martin for US Air Force F-15Es and F-16C/Ds, and subsequently has been selected by eight allied air forces. LANTIRN is also operational on the US Navy F-14.
Aircraft Arrived At Leeuwarden
July 25, 1996
Three TVI aircraft arrived at Leeuwarden Air Base at Thursday July 25, 1996, 2015hrsA: The Dutch F-16B J-650, the Belgian F-16A FA-93, and Norwegian F-16A 299. The aircraft were originally planned to arrive in May; the delay was caused by Tape-2 software problems.
A modest OTE Tape 2 test program of 20 hours was performed. Main goal was the testing the Fire Control Radar system in European theater (especially tests above The Netherlands and Germany with their heavy motor traffic).
Since the 150 Taiwanese Block-20 F-16A/Bs will most probably not be brought to the same standard as the EPAF F-16s, the aircraft may be delivered with Tape-2 like software capabilities. There is no Taiwanese involvement during the EPAF OT&E phase of the MLU program.
First Flight LTF Aircraft
July 16, 1996
The first two aircraft to be modified in Europe has successfully completed first flights. The Royal Danish Air Force flew the first Lead the Fleet aircraft at its Aalborg depot in late June. The Royal Netherlands Air Force followed with its successful first flight on July 11 at the Fokker/Woensdrecht facilities.
Denmark and the Netherlands are two of the four European countries participating in the Mid-Life Update program. Other countries participating in the program include Belgium and Norway, comprising the original four-nation European F-16 consortium. Under the MLU program, more than 300 early model F-16A/B aircraft will be modified to the most advanced, leading edge mulitrole fighter capability.
These capabilities include a modular mission computer, replacing three previous aircraft computers; advanced identification friend or foe (AIFF); updated cockpit including color Multi-Functional Displays, night vision capabilities and head-up display; digital terrain system; improved APG-66 radar; improved data modem; electronic warfare management system; and global positioning system (GPS).
"These modifications bring the A/B aircraft to the most advanced technology in current production, and establish commonality with current model F-16s," said David Wesolka, director of the Lockheed Martin MLU program. "In addition, the modification kits include the first application of some new F-16 capabilities, such as the color displays."
The Lead the Fleet phase is the second stage in the MLU program. In the first stage, five Trial Verification Installation (TVI) aircraft were modified with MLU kits at Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems facilities in Fort Worth. This process verified the modification can be installed on the aircraft. Under the Lead the Fleet phase, four aircraft are being updated at the participating countries' facilities. The purpose is to verify installation processes at the European facilities.
The Lead The Fleet phase began in October of 1995 and is expected to be completed this month. The aircraft will then undergo Operational Test & Evaluation within the European theater. Delivery of MLU production kits is scheduled to begin late this year with final delivery in 2000. Kit production will include extensive European industry participation.
Roll-Out Dutch Lead-The-Fleet Aircraft
July 4, 1996
Modifications of the RNLAF Lead-The-Fleet aircraft J-251 (78-0251) were completed July 4, 1996 at Woensdrecht AB.
The RNLAF has plans to purchase a new airborne reconnaissance system for its post-MLU F-16s of 306 Squadron with a budget of NLG 275 million (US$ 161 million), covering 24 pods and four mobile ground stations. Four firms are competing:
- El-Op (Israel), Loral and Recon (USA) with a daylight sensor, recce management system, and ground system.
- El-Op, Honeywell Germany, Signaal USFA (Netherlands) and Northrop Grumman Westinghouse with an infra-red sensor. Autometric (USA) and Schlumberger (France) for the data recorder.
- Elisra and Elta (Israel) for the datalink.
- Lockheed Martin and Per Udsen (Denmark) for the pod.
Four Per Udsen pods are already in use as an interim solution for operations over Bosnia. The RNLAF will also monitor US Marine Corps flight tests with the Advanced Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance System (ATARS) and continue talks with Germany, France, Israel, and the UK about exchanging flight test results.
Separatly, the TNO Physics and Electronics Laboratory (TNO-FEL) and the NLR are developing an airborne synthetic aperture radar. The PHARUS pod mounted radar is claimed to have mine field detection capabilities and may be included in the F-16 airborne reconnaissance program later.
Completion Of First TVI Aircraft
May 11, 1996
Modifications to the first Trial Verification Installation (TVI) aircraft were completed on
May 11, 1996 at Lockheed Martin Fort Worth in ceremonies.
Four of the five TVI aircraft have been used for flight tests. The US F-16C and the Danish F-16B are being used for development tests at Edwards. The Belgian F-16A, Dutch F-16B and Norwegian F-16A are scheduled to begin operational tests at Leeuwarden early May 1996.
Four Lead-The-Fleet MLU kits, including the Texas Instruments Modular Mission Computer and Hazeltine interrogator/transponder, are scheduled to be shipped to four European depots in April 1996. The F-16s made available for these kits are scheduled to start flight tests in August 1996. Delays with the MMC are being made up arrears.
Production deliveries will start in October 1996 with depot modifications starting in January 1997.
Following The DT&E Phase
Both aircraft will be equipped with special measurement systems and will be used in the Development Test & Evaluation test program at Edwards AFB, which will last until October 1997. The three other TVI aircraft will be used in the DT&E phase until mid-1996.
Further tests will then take place at Leeuwarden Air Base, The Netherlands, which will denote the start of the Operational Test & Evaluation phase of MLU. At Leeuwarden, four more MLU aircraft will join the program, the so called Lead The Fleet (LTF) aircraft, the first F-16s that will be modified for each of the four EPAF countries.
[Photo: Lockheed Martin]
The Danish TVI aircraft
Lockheed Martin experienced delays with Flight Test Tape 2 software. FFT-2 release was planned in January 1996. Part of the delay was caused by difficulties with the Modular Mission Computer software. FTT-2 will be released in phases, with full radar and navigation capabilities but degraded Air-Air and Air-Ground capabilities. Three MLU F-16s are available: the Dutch J-650 (80-3650), together with the USAF and BAF aircraft.
Radar tests are going well — the radar system functions better than expected.
Wiring Problems Causes Delay
Problems with solder joints of wiring harnesses in five F-16A/B MLU test aircraft are delaying plans to start with the Operational Test & Evaluation in Europe in May. According to Lockheed Martin, these problems are not a flight safety issue.
DT&E Software Tapes One Through Four
The US DT&E aircraft 80-0584 and the Danish aircraft ET-204 now use the MLU Tape-1 software, mainly for evaluation of the APG-66(v)2 radar system. The Tape-1 version will be replaced in June 1996 by the more extensive Tape-2 at the beginning of the OT&E phase. Tape-4 denotes the final version which will be used in the Mid-Life Update of other aircraft to be modified.
NLR Flight Simulator
The Nationaal Lucht- en Ruimtevaartlaboratorium has put into use a new flight simulator that can be equipped with an F-16 Mid-Life Update cockpit. The RNLAF will use this simulator for tactical evaluations and training purposes. The Chief of the Air Force, Gen Maj Ben Droste made the first flight.
The Netherlands National Aerospace Laboratory NLR (Nederlands Lucht- en Ruimtevaart Laboratorium) in Amsterdam has put the National Simulator Facility (NSF) into use. The reconfigurable, full-scenario research simulator — initially simulating the F-16A in MLU configuration — includes a 5 m diameter dome visual-display system mounted on a six- axis motion system. The visual system consists of an Evans & Sutherland ESIG-3000GT image generator and a Vista View projector slaved to head movement so that a high-resolution inset is displayed wherever the pilot looks within the dome.
First Flight With Color Displays
November 13, 1995
Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems conducted the first flight of an F-16 aircraft equipped with color, Multi-Function Displays (MFDs) on October 3 in Fort Worth, Texas.
The two-place F-16D flight-test aircraft was equipped with two CMFDs and a modified version of the F-16s upgraded, programmable display generator (UPDG). One CMFD was mounted in the front seat's right display location and another in the rear seat's right display location. A standard Honeywell-produced F-16 monochrome Multi-Function Display (MFD) was mounted in each of the two left display locations. This provided the test pilots with a one-against-one comparison of the two display types.
The modified UPDG was fitted with both an MFD and a CMFD power supply and included an avionics video tape recorder (AVTR) shop-replaceable unit (SRU). The AVTR SRU records the display's video information onto video tape. Playback of the tapes during debriefings indicated good performance.
According to an engineer with Lockheed Martin's demonstration aircraft program, "the CMFDs were viewable under various lighting conditions and the color looked good... The CMFDs were evaluated with the Cats Eyes NVGs (night vision goggles) on one night flight and were verified to be NVG compatible... The pilots felt the CMFDs worked very well... As a side note, the displays have been operating for two weeks in both the ITS (integrated test station) and the aircraft without any failures."
September 5, 1995
The RNLAF has selected the Israeli Rada FACE autonomous ACMI system for internal installations in its F-16 fleet. The $14 million contract was signed on September 5, 1995, and is the first order of the FACE system which is an improvement over the original ACE system.
The ACE's first order was for the Chilean Air Force IAI upgraded F-5 Plus fighters and was announced on January 28, 1993. The Israeli Defence Force/Air Force (IDF/AF) announced selection on August 28, 1994.
MLU Offered To Poles And Czechs
The US has offered the Czech Republic and Poland industrial participation in F-16 MLU projects to try to deflect criticism that purchasing the F-16 could be damaging to the domestic aerospace industries od the two eastern European countries. Both countries are emerging as the most likely candidates to receive surplus USAF F-16A/B Block-15 aircraft, either of the "Falcon Up" type (with a structural service life extension program) or a full MLU with avionics upgrade, to what amounts to a Block-50 cockpit standard. An option would be to integrate their Russian R-27 (AA-10 Alamo) medium-range air-air missile — or even the R-77 (AA-12 Adder) with the F-16.
Honeywell Color Cockpit Displays
August 30, 1995
Honeywell announced it has negotiated a contract worth more than US$99 million with Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems to produce color, flat panel cockpit displays and display generators for Lockheed Martin's European Mid-Life Update and Taiwan F-16 programs.
This represents the first production of color displays for the F-16 cockpit. The display will be used in the F-16 to present radar, weapon and system information.
Delivery of a portion of the units will begin in March 1996 for inclusion in new F-16 fighter aircraft Lockheed Martin is producing for Taiwan's air force. Delivery of the remaining shipsets will begin in November 1996 for additional Taiwan aircraft and for incorporation into upgrade kits that Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands will use to retrofit their existing fleets of F-16A/B aircraft. Final documentation of the Taiwan program award occurred in May 1995, while the MLU award is anticipated by October 1995.
Danish EW System
Terma Elektronik has been cleared by the USAF as a qualified supplier to provide the self- protection Electronic Warfare Management System (EWMS) for the MLU. This opens the door to a potential sale to the USAF and ANG to upgrade their Block-25 and -30 F-16C/Ds, and possibly the A-10 and C-130, though it is unclear how many F-16s in the US reserves would be included in such a program, since it is still unclear how many aircraft will be taken out of service. The system has been cleared under the US Foreign Comparative Testing program. The system has also been sold for several C-130H, C-160, Fokker 27, and Fennec helicopter operators.
Start Of Initial Development, Test & Evaluation
In June 1995, the first flights took place in the MLU's DT&E phase on Edwards Air Force base, under the leadership of main contractor Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems and the United States Air Force. Each of the four EPAF countries supplies its own test pilot.
June 16, 1995
Lockheed Fort Worth Company is being awarded a $622,673,300 face value increase to a Fixed Price Incentive Fee contract to provide for 301 Midlife Update Modification Kits which will update F-16 aircraft from a Block 15 to a Block 50 configuration. Contract is expected to be completed October 1996. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current US fiscal year. This effort supports foreign military sales to Belgium, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
The Netherlands is seeking to purchase 200 AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-Air missiles, worth $110 million. The missiles are intended for the MLU F-16s.
Completion Modifications TVI Aircraft
May 15, 1995
After a 32 month period Lockheed Martin marked the completion of modifications to the first Trial Verification Installation (TVI) aircraft in ceremonies, in presence of officials from The Netherlands (Commander-in-Chief Lt Gen Manderfeld, Maj Gen Altena), Denmark (Maj Gen Nielsen), Belgium (Maj Gen DeBrouwer), Norway (Maj Gen Uelend), and the US (Brig Gen Hawley).
First Flights Of TVI Aircraft
April 28, 1995
The first of five Trial, Verification Installation (TVI) aircraft (USAF F-16A 80-0584/ED) for the MLU has made its first flight from Fort Worth on April 28, 1995. This a day after LMTAS delivered its 3,500th production F-16, an F- 16C Block-50D destined for the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw AFB. The second TVI aircraft made its first flight on May 11, 1995. This is a two-seat F-16B aircraft (ET-204) of the Royal Danish Air Force.
The first two of five TVI aircraft were transported to Edwards AFB on June 9th, 1995.
Lockheed Martin has received a US$30 billion increase in its MLU development contract to cover the addition of color cockpit displays. Honeywell has been selected to supply the liquid-crystal displays to replace the existing cathode ray tubes. The four EPAF air forces, as well as Taiwan have agreed to equip the F-16 with the displays, that will also be offered to other A/B and C/D operators.
Certain MLU items will be installed by Lockheed in new-built aircraft for Taiwan. MLU flight test aircraft will be flown initially with monochrome displays, but will be upgraded later.
Radar-Guided Missiles For The Dutch
October 28, 1993
The Royal Netherlands Air Force will need 200 radar-guided missiles for its three rapid reaction squadrons that will operate the MLU F-16. During 1995-2001 an amount of DFL 480 million is reserved for this purchase, said Parliamentary Undersecretary for Defense Ton Frinkink. The missiles are necessary with the introduction of boyond visual range capability of the MLU F-16s. Likely candidates are the Hughes AMRAAM (US) and the Matra Mica (France — ordered by the French and Taiwanese air forces), or a British-Swedish design yet to be taken into production. A decision is expected to be taken in 1994.
Dutch And Belgian Cutbacks
Due to drastic cutbacks in the size of the Belgian Air Force, fewer of its F-16A/Bs will undergo the planned Mid-Life Update. Around 110 F-16s were intended for the MLU, but now a total force of only 72 aircraft is planned, of which only 48 are to be upgraded. However, options are held on a further 24 kits. This figure was confirmed when an agreement on the MLU was finalised on January 28 at a meeting in Washington of European and US representatives of the Multinational Fighter Programme Steering Committee.
The number of Dutch aircraft to undergo the MLU was also reduced from 170 to 136. Norway still intends to upgrade 56 of its aircraft, Denmark 61, and the USAF 223.
Letters of Offer and Acceptance for the MLU are expected to be signed in June to enable production to proceed on schedule.
Modular Mission Computer
July 8, 1991
Texas Instruments will develop a new Modular Mission Computer Core Cluster (MMCCC) to replace 3 existing computers in the F-16 and provide them with advanced capabilities such as digital terrain following and forward-looking infrared. A US$ 47 million contract for the first 30 units will be signed later this year.
May 3, 1991
Development of the Mid-Life Update has been authorized on May 3 1991 (signature of final partner). On June 15, 1991 GD was awarded the contract for delivery of mod kits.