Taking its game forward, Lockheed Martin launched an improved version of the popular F-16, The F-16V and claims it to be the most technology advanced, 4th generation Fighter Aircraft in the world today. An option for new productions, as well as upgrades to the existing F-16 s, the F-16 V has a slew of the latest state of the art technological advancements and improvements that include a new radar system, stealth detection capabilities, and electronics design that add a lot of value to the already iconic aircraft.
It is believed that the F-16V was developed towards the up gradation of Taiwan’s aging F-16 fleet, with an eye on the modernisation of the hostile People’s Liberation Army Air Force (Air Force of Mainland China). Taiwan alone plans to upgrade 147 F-16A fighters with the new advancements to keep its fleet current and battle ready. The Aircraft has been put through rigorous simulated flight time tests of more than 27000 hours and the results are being studied to determine the life of the aircraft.
The F-16V incorporates an upgraded mission computer, a state of the art avionics and includes multi-function displays. The Central Pedestal Display helps improve the crew’s situational awareness through Real Time processing of the flight safety data. In addition, the F-16V is also loaded with an upgradable display generator, a link-16 data link, HF/UHH/VHF multiple frequency radio communication support as well as IFF (identification friend or foe) enhancements. The three original computers have been replaced with a single modular mission computer which provides far higher computing power to the avionics and weapons systems in addition to providing accurate targeting, air to air strike performances and information capabilities. According to Lockheed Martin, the F-16V is capable of providing affordable and scalable advanced combat capabilities through its Active Electronically Scanned Array radar. The Central Pedestal Display also provides high-resolution display with color maps, zoom functionality, and Night vision systems, thereby helping to keep the aircraft in an enhanced state of Battle Awareness.
An effective and advanced weapon system capability is one of the hallmarks of a good Fighter jet and with the F-16V; Lockheed Martin has really taken its game to the next level. The F-16V supports the integration of the AGM-119/84/65-G anti-ship missile system as well as AGM-65 Maverick Air to Ground Tactical missile. In addition to these, the F-16V also supports the Paveway Laser Guided bombs, GBU-15 bombs and wind corrected munitions dispenser weapon systems.
The Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar system enables all-weather targeting as well as offers high-resolution imaging and detection of land-based targets. Through the Phased Air Radar both the air to air and air to surface modes can be applied simultaneously. The Advanced Targeting Pod is capable of offering high air to air and air to surface targeting and supports the launch of all laser guided and GPS guided weapons against stationary as well as moving targets. The Aircraft is also capable of integration with the FLIR laser system and navigation as well as reconnaissance pods. The F-16V is also upgraded with state of the art threat warning systems, jammers, electronic countermeasure equipment pods and chaff and infrared flare dispensers to take care of complex and varied battlefield situations.
The F-16V is among the most well-designed fighter aircraft in the world . The aircraft has a total length of 49.3ft and a height of 16.7ft. The wingspan of the aircraft stands at 31ft and is capable of a top speed of 1500mph. The weight of the aircraft is 9207 kg and The Take Off Gross Weight(TOGW) is 48,000 lbs. at maximum.
Although Lockheed Martin is the World’s largest defense contractor, it does face a lot of challenges from the British Defence Systems giant BAE Systems plc to upgrade the more than 3000 F-16 Fighter Aircraft that are now in active service in many foreign armed forces. Of these 3000 Aircrafts, more than 1000 are 15 years old or older and are a good market for enhancements to remain competitive. Although newer 5th generation Aircraft such as the F-22 and F-35 have now entered service, it is true that upgrading fourth generation fighter aircraft is much more cost effective than buying fifth generation fighter aircraft and to that end, the F-16V seems to be on the right track .
Officially known as the “Fighting Falcon” commonly known as the Viper by pilots and crew, The F-16 is one of the most renowned and battle tested supersonic fighter aircraft in the world. This single engine, multirole aircraft developed by Lockheed Martin (formerly General Dynamics), was developed originally for the United States Air Force and is now regarded as the most successful all-weather multirole fighter aircraft. Entering into production almost four decades back in 1976, more than 4500 F-16 aircraft have been built and although no more bought by the United States Air Force, improved versions are being built for various export customers.
The F-16 had many path breaking features such as a frameless bubble canopy, side-mounted control stick a reclining seat and the pioneering use of relaxed static stability flight control system. With 11 locations for mounting weapon systems, The F-16 has been an Aircraft of choice for 25 other nations and is the most operational military aircraft in the world, with more than 2240 aircraft in active service, making up 15% of the world’s Air Forces.