The aircraft, which are drawn from the USAF's fleet of Block 40, 42, 50 and 52 machines, will undergo a structural service life extension programme (SLEP) and a combat avionics programmed extension suite (CAPES) upgrade. The modifications will greatly boost the venerable warplane's capabilities.
"It provides a very significant capability to the F-16 platform that puts it on par, I do believe, with some of the other platforms that have AESA [active electronically scanned array radars] today," says Col Mark Mol, programme manager at the USAF's F-16 System Programme Office at Hill AFB, Utah.
The CAPES programme involves both hardware and software modifications, Mol says. The F-16 will receive a new AESA radar, a new Terma ALQ-213 electronic warfare system, an integrated broadcast system (IBS) and a center display unit (CDU). There will also be a new operational flight programme to tie those new systems together with the aircraft's existing avionics. The software will be one of the biggest challenges, Mol says.