February 14, 1999 (by Lieven Dewitte) - LMTAS received authorization for executing an option for 18 additional F-16A/B Mid-Life Update (MLU) kits for the Belgian Air Force. The authorization was received on January 22, 1999, and is valued at $46million.
Delivery of the kits to Belgium
is scheduled to begin in March2002 and complete in June 2003. The kits will be installed by SABCA in Belgium. This latest buy brings the Belgian MLU
total to 110 aircraft kits and total program orders to 360 kits, which includes the U.S. Air Force flight test aircraft.
The other countries participating in the modification program are Denmark
, the Netherlands
. In addition, Portugal
recently signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance for 20 MLU kits along with25 used USAF F-16A/B aircraft. Several other F-16A/B users are considering the MLU modification. The European Participating Air Forces have now exercised all kit options. The MLU program involves extensive coproduction among aerospace and electronics industries in the four European participating countries and the United States.
All kits are assembled at SABCA in Belgium and shipped to modification lines in each country. Overall program management resides at Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems. The four European countries have worked with the U.S. in a cooperative effort dating back to the late 1980s. Codevelopment began in 1991, and production kit deliveries began in 1996. Initial operational capability wasd eclared with the modified aircraft in 1998. The first MLU F-16s began flying peacekeeping missions over Bosnia in January 1999.
The kit production program continues on track, meeting all of its targets of product performance, cost, schedule and quality. Aircraft are being modified on schedule with approximately 75 completed to date.