Lockheed Martin has successfully completed the maiden flight of the F-16V, the latest and most advanced F-16 fighter jet to date.
The October 16 flight marks the first time an F-16 has flown with Northrop Grumman’s advanced APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR), which will deliver a quantum leap in capability for the venerable F-16.
The F-16V “Viper” advanced avionics configuration also includes a new cockpit Center Pedestal Display (a “glass” digital cockpit), a modernized mission computer, a high-capacity Ethernet data bus, and several other missions systems enhancements that collectively add significant combat capabilities to address the dynamic threat environments emerging in the coming decades.
“This flight marks a historic milestone in the evolution of the F-16,” said Rod McLean, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s F-16/F-22 Integrated Fighter Group. “The new F-16V configuration includes numerous enhancements designed to keep the F-16 at the forefront of international security, strengthening its position as the world’s foremost combat-proven 4th Generation fighter aircraft.”
The F-16V, an option for both new production F-16s and F-16 upgrades, is the next generation configuration that leverages a common worldwide sustainment infrastructure and provides significant capability improvements to the world’s most affordable, combat-proven multi-role fighter.
Northrop Grumman’s APG-83 SABR AESA fire control radar provides 5th Generation air-to-air and air-to-ground radar capability. Northrop Grumman also provides AESA radars for the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II.
With more than 4,550 F-16s delivered to date, the F-16V is a natural step in the evolution of the world’s most successful 4th Generation fighter.
As reported by Defense Media Network, 26 nations use F-16s. In recent years the F-16 has won new orders in Morocco, Egypt, Oman and Iraq. The U.S. Air Force is retiring some of its older F-16s, but has long been pondering an upgrade program for 300 airframes. The air staff and the Air National Guard have consistently opposed acquisition of “new build” F-15 Eagles, F-16s or F/A-18E/Fs for U.S. forces, insisting that only the capabilities offered by the F-35 will work for the long-term future.
Earlier this month Lockheed Martin took its F-16 cockpit demonstrator to Indonesia to highlight the F-16V’s capabilities. Indonesia is reportedly planning to replace its old fighter aircraft and reportedly also considering the Eurofighter.