Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $1.2bn foreign military sales (FMS) contract to upgrade 134 F-16 aircraft for the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF). The ROKAF had initially selected BAE Systems as prime contractor for the F-16 upgrade programme, also under an FMS deal, but decided to switch suppliers last year when the U.S. government revised prices upwards.
The Lockheed Martin upgrade package is based on the advanced F-16V Viper configuration. The primary enhancement is the installation of Northrop Grumman’s APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR). The BAE Systems upgrade package initially selected by the ROKAF would have included the competing Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR). Both radars offer AESA technology in a “low cost” package adapted to existing power and cooling allocations of legacy F-16s.
The SABR-equipped F-16V flew for the first time in October 2015. The Viper avionics configuration also includes a new cockpit Center Pedestal Display, a modernized mission computer and a high-capacity Ethernet data bus.
The F-16 Viper was formally launched at the Singapore Airshow in 2012. However, the first AESA-equipped F-16s to be cleared for export were the Block 60 F-16E/Fs for the United Arab Emirates, the first of which were delivered in 2006. Those aircraft are equipped with Northrop Grumman’s AN/APG-80 AESA radar.