September 15, 2018 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Lockheed Martin announced that it will launch the upgrade of 85 Greek F-16s to the Block 70/72 Viper configuration on Monday.
Side view of HAF F-16D block 52 #602 during a photo shoot above the Adriatic. [Photo by Tokunaga]
While the value of the contract was not mentioned, an earlier US DOD
announcement of a foreign military sale approval (October 2017) of F-16 upgrade to Greece
had quoted a figure of US$ 2.4 billion.
The F-16V or Viper is the latest variant of the F-16 Fighting Falcon fourth generation, multi-role, fighter aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Martin. The Viper integrates advanced capabilities as part of an upgrade package to better interoperate with fifth-generation fighters, including the F-35 and the F-22. They even share some technology, with those aircraft like the new radars that will be installed, the APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA
) which will significantly enhance the aircraft’s ability to identify and engage enemy aircraft.
The F-16V can be deployed in suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) missions, air-to-ground and air-to-air combat, and deep interdiction and maritime interdiction missions. It features an airborne mission role-change capability, and can detect and track time-critical hard-to-find targets in all weather conditions. It also reduces operational costs for the users.
According to Lockheed Martin, a great part of the upgrade will take place in Greece.
The first two years will be spent on engineering for the prototype and the registration of the systems. The installation on Greek fighter jets will take place during the third year of the program, and the Hellenic Airforce pilots will be trained in the fourth year. The training is anticipated to be brief, as he said, because of the expertise of Greek fighter pilots.
The upgrade of the 85 warplanes to Vipers will provide the Hellenic Airforce with an entirely new aircraft, as basically the only element that will be kept will be the fuselage.
Earlier this year, Bahrain
ordered 16 new F-16 V Block 70s.