Lockheed Pipes In: F-16IN Has Great Growth Prospects

The American teens are working overtime to battle deep perceptions that their wares -- the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-16IN Super Viper -- are essentially old aircraft (i.e. not modern) with a few new systems bunged in, and are basically platforms in the twilight of their operational lives, being replaced as they are with new assets by US forces. Boeing tried dealing with that perception a few days ago when it revealed that India was being offered something called the International Roadmap as part of the MMRCA competition. Arch-rival Lockheed-Martin articulated something similar recently, which they sent over. Posting it in full:

"While the Super Viper is a new design just for India, it is also the starting point for future growth. The F-16 has a well documented history of continuous evolution in capability. This is very important since the F-16IN is inherently designed for a long service life (in excess of 6500 flight hours). During this service life the desire will likely arise for significant upgradation to add capability for expanded mission roles, improved combat capability, and reduced operating costs. There are two primary enablers to this evolution: technology advancements and a proactive upgradation strategy.

Technology Advancements. The Super Viper is on the cutting edge of fighter aircraft technology with its 5th gen-based AESA radar, fiber optics data network, large flat panel color displays and the latest precision weapons. Starting now the Super Viper has inherent growth capacity due to ample unused space and large processing reserves. Nevertheless, emerging technologies will enable even greater capability. The history of technology advancement, especially for digital systems, shows that this added capability comes in increasingly smaller packages with lower power requirements. (Today’s mobile phone includes web browsing, games, and video in a smaller size than yesterday’s voice-only device.) The F-16 has demonstrated this many times across seven major block changes. This includes five generations of core avionics, five radar versions, ten different EW suites, and dozens of new weapons without changing the aircraft structure or size.
To take advantage of these new technologies the Super Viper has a growth-oriented architecture for adding new systems and capabilities. Maximum use has been made of commercial standards and technology such as processing, software and networking.

Upgradation Strategy. The U.S. Air Force along with the European operators of the F-16 have been jointly executing a long term continuous upgradation strategy since the beginning of the F-16 program. As part of the overall sustainment philosophy, this strategy recognizes the need for continuous improvement and it defines a step-wise approach to keeping the F-16 on the forefront of war fighting capability. There are F-16s flying today in the U.S. and in Europe that are 30 years old but they have the same systems and capabilities as a new Block 50 F-16.
At the heart of the strategy is a long term capability improvement roadmap which is synchronized with technology-driven improvements in weapons, sensors, displays, and computing. These key technology areas have their own improvement roadmaps which dovetail with the aircraft capability improvement roadmap. The roadmap is implemented through a series of software releases and hardware updates. For the U.S. and European Air Forces there is typically a major software release each 18 months. This allows for balance between rapid fielding of new capability and time required to assimilate the new capabilities into operational use. Major hardware updates are likewise spaced out to optimize fleet management while aircraft are being inducted into the modification program.

In summary, the growth potential for the Super Viper is much more than just the currently available spare capacity. Combining the latest technologies with a long term continuous upgradation strategy will keep the F-16IN relevant from the day it is first inducted until it is finally retired from service.

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