The U.S. Air Force said on August 19 that it recently grounded 82 two-seat F-16D fighters following the discovery of canopy sill longeron cracks between the front and rear pilot seats. An “immediate action time compliance technical order” the service issued after post-mission flight inspections revealed initial structural cracks led to the discovery.
General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon
Elbit Systems of America provided more detail on the Center Pedestal Display (CPD) it is providing to Lockheed Martin for the F-16V upgrade. Along with a new AESA radar, the CPD is a key element of the upgrade, which is proceeding for 150 Taiwanese F-16A/Bs, while the U.S. Air Force struggles to fund the improvements for its own fleet.
Lockheed Martin (LM) and BAE Systems reported progress this month on their rival upgrades for F-16 Fighting Falcons. Two aircraft from each company’s launch customer (Taiwan for LM, Korea for BAE) are now in rework, ironically just a few miles from each other in Fort Worth, Texas. Meanwhile, the ferry of Iraq’s first two new Block 52 aircraft in September is looking unlikely.
Flight operations of the F-35A Lightning II conducted by the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., were suspended after one of the fighters caught fire on June 23 as it prepared to take off on a training mission. The U.S. military is investigating the incident.
The first of 36 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 52 fighters for the Iraqi Air Force made its first flight from the company’s Fort Worth, Texas facility. Iraq confirmed the purchase of 18 F-16s in September 2011, and has apparently committed to the other 18 since then. The Iraqi and other orders have extended the F-16 production line through 2017. More than 4,540 F-16s have been delivered to date.
As part of enhanced collective measures agreed to by member countries in April, NATO has deployed more fighters to eastern Europe in response to the continuing crisis in Ukraine. France and Canada have dispatched aircraft this week, while a new NATO multinational team is taking over the enhanced air defense detachment in the Baltic republics.
According to media reports Egypt’s interim government, installed by the army in July 2013, is negotiating a $2 billion arms package with Russia. Some sources say the deal may have already been signed during the visit this week to Moscow by the head of the Egyptian army, Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. It is understood that the deal is being funded by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
The war of words between the system integrators and radar houses that are chasing the F-16 upgrade market intensified here this week. With 3,500 Fighting Falcons still flying, at least one-third of which might be upgraded, the stakes are high. Here in Singapore, BAE Systems Inc. and Raytheon are hoping that the local Ministry of Defence will entertain their rival proposals for a contract that could be worth almost $2.5 billion, and consider them above the solution offered by Lockheed Martin (LM) and Northrop Grumman (NG).
Singapore’s intention to upgrade its fleet of about 60 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fighters was indicated by a recent notification to 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.
Lockheed Martin has brought its T-50 Golden Eagle simulator to Dubai to continue its promotion of the supersonic advanced trainer system in the region and particularly in the UAE. The T-50 was developed in Korea by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) working in close partnership with Lockheed Martin and is now in service with the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) in the form of the T-50 advanced trainer and TA-50 lead-in fighter/weapons trainer versions. The fully combat-capable FA-50 is due to be delivered before the end of the year to begin the replacement of the ROKAF’s Northrop F-5s.
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