Singapore Outlines Upgrade Plans for F-16C/Ds

 - January 23, 2014, 12:05 PM
An F-16D of the Republic of Singapore Air Force. Rival radars and integrators are available for a planned upgrade to its F-16 fleet. (Photo: Chris Pocock)

Singapore’s intention to upgrade its fleet of about 60 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fighters was indicated by a recent notification to the U.S. Congress by the Pentagon. But no choice has yet been made between rival upgrade systems integrators BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin. According to the notification, the upgrade will cost Singapore an estimated $2.43 billion, although this total also includes three new weapons.

A spokesman for BAE Systems said the company is hoping for an open competition for the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) requirement. It began initial design and development work for the Korean F-16 upgrade last month. The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) has a fleet of more than 130 F-16s, and chose BAE Systems in preference to the OEM. BAE Systems in the U.S claims long experience with the F-16, including its flight control computers, cockpit displays, electronic warfare systems, fire control systems, advanced ethernet interface, and support equipment. The upgrade will include an AESA radar; the ROKAF separately chose the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR) in preference to the Northrop Grumman Scaleable Agile Beam Radar (SABR).

In late 2011, the U.S. Air Force chose Lockheed Martin to upgrade some 300 F-16C/Ds in a program named CAPES (Combat Avionics Programmed Extension Suite). The Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF), which operates a fleet of 150 F-16A/Bs, subsequently followed suit. BAE Systems said it was not given the opportunity to compete in Taiwan. Then last August, Lockheed Martin selected the SABR in preference to the RACR, for the CAPES.

Meanwhile, however, the U.S. defense budget squeeze has cast doubt on whether the USAF can afford the $3 billion cost of upgrading its own F-16s.