F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 05 Jun 2018, 09:35
by planehazza
Hi all,

I'm familiar with block 15/20/25 etc, but when you see F-16C-25E etc, what does the 'E' mean? Is it a sub version? Indication of software tape?

Also, when a block 15, for example, goes through an MLU and further upgrades (hardware, software, structure etc.) why is it still referred to as a block 15, and not of the version it has been updated to?

Thanks!

Re: Block Versions

Unread postPosted: 05 Jun 2018, 10:16
by basher54321
Hi there

Good question,
Regarding the MLU that might be a case of the source you are looking at, MLU F-16AM or Block 20 is the most common.

They were mostly manufactured as Block 1, 5 ,10, 15 and 15 OCU and the ones left in service are mostly 15 OCU airframes without looking.

Block 20 might be more relevant because the MLU upgrade coincided with the change from manufacture of Block 15 OCU to Block 20 in the mid 1990s and both MLU / Block 20 had a C type cockpit with upgraded avionics - even though there are still many differences in each.

Not certain on the sub blocks in manufacture - I think the Big Inlet may have come in at Block 30D but no idea whether that is related to the change at 30D or not.

Re: Block Versions

Unread postPosted: 05 Jun 2018, 11:32
by planehazza
basher54321 wrote:Hi there

Good question,
Regarding the MLU that might be a case of the source you are looking at, MLU F-16AM or Block 20 is the most common.

They were mostly manufactured as Block 1, 5 ,10, 15 and 15 OCU and the ones left in service are mostly 15 OCU airframes without looking.

Block 20 might be more relevant because the MLU upgrade coincided with the change from manufacture of Block 15 OCU to Block 20 in the mid 1990s and both MLU / Block 20 had a C type cockpit with upgraded avionics - even though there are still many differences in each.

Not certain on the sub blocks in manufacture - I think the Big Inlet may have come in at Block 30D but no idea whether that is related to the change at 30D or not.


Thanks for that. I know the 30 is the 'power house' of the range, due to the powerful GE motor and lighter airframe. I do recall reading something about early 30s having the PW still, as I think their production started when the GE/PW options appeared. I could be mixing that up though.

I thought MLU/OCU was (related to) the same thing? I thought an Operational Conversion Unit was an active squadron doing Mid Life Updates to their active viper fleet? Regarding 15 or 20s, I'm fairly confident the BAF MLUs are block 15 airframes, but again, I could be wrong.

EDIT: Seems I need to brush up a little on my F-16 version knowledge. Indeed, you are correct, but so am I. There are two meanings to the abbreviation 'OCU': Operational Converstion Unit, and Operational Capability Upgrade, the latter being the one you were referring to. It seems that halfway through the 15 productions, aircraft went from being As to Cs. After delivery of the last 15Y, all 15s were made to OCU standards, essentially as Cs. Am I getting it now?

From the F-16 15OCU section:

Block 15 OCU at F-16.net wrote:Block 15OCU

214 aircraft from Block 15Y onwards received upgraded systems starting late-1987. Designated Block 15OCU (Operational Capability Upgrade), these aircraft are powered by the more reliable F100-PW-220 turbofan. These aircraft also have structural strengthening and are provided with the enlarged HUD that was first introduced on the F-16C/D. Also incorporated are the capability to fire the Norwegian Penguin Mk.3 anti-shipping missile (built by Kongsberg, US designation AGM-119) and the AGM-65, provisions for the AIM-120 AMRAAM, radar altimeter, expanded computer capacity, data transfer unit, wide-angle HUD, AN/APX-101 IFF, Tracor AN/ALE-40 chaff/flare dispenser and provisions for the AN/ALQ-131 ECM pod. These modifications increased the max. TO weight to 37,500lbs (17,010kg). The first Block 15OCU was delivered in January 1988, and from 1988 onwards, all Block 15's were built to OCU specifications.

Re: Block Versions

Unread postPosted: 05 Jun 2018, 12:27
by basher54321
Block 15 OCU had parts of the C airframe as is known - maybe closest to block 25 / 32 in terms weight - the block 20 might have got block 50 wings from memory - need to check

The block 30A-C still had the GE-100 with small inlet thus less airflow. The F-16N was an example and had the gun replaced with balast etc.

You can find every F-16AM in the database and see exactly what it was originally manufactured as.

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 06 Jun 2018, 08:00
by planehazza
What's with the thread renaming? :D

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 06 Jun 2018, 09:33
by basher54321
The sub blocks wouldnt be software related you would think because any updates would render the naming convention useless.

As for the MLU it is probably misleading to use any block number at all - best stick with F-16AM MLU in my op.......there are user specific differences as well.

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 06 Jun 2018, 09:48
by Lieven
planehazza wrote:What's with the thread renaming? :D


Free service. :-) The more specific the thread names are, the better. 'Block Versions' was perhaps a little too general.

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 06 Jun 2018, 18:27
by MVSGas
planehazza wrote:I'm familiar with block 15/20/25 etc, but when you see F-16C-25E etc, what does the 'E' mean? Is it a sub version? Indication of software tape?

Also, when a block 15, for example, goes through an MLU and further upgrades (hardware, software, structure etc.) why is it still referred to as a block 15, and not of the version it has been updated to?

Regarding blocks going through updates/upgrades and still being refer to as block 10 or 15, their not. Most are referred as block 20. For example
Here is a list of all aircraft updated to block 20
http://www.f-16.net/aircraft-database/v ... ctype/F-16

Now, speaking about general updates/upgrades:
Each aircraft is different. Each country had their own update scheduled, different equipment. MLU was not a black and white update, it combine several updates like SLEP, Pacer Slip, Pacer AMSTELL, etc.

There are also time compliance technical orders (TCTO) and Engineering Change Proposal (ECP)

As for the sub-blocks: Is a combination of all the above. Some updates/upgrades where integrated into the manufacturing.
All in all, every F-16 is different. It changes country to country and year by year. So a Belgium Block 20 in 2008 may be different than a ROCAF block 20 2008, etc.

This topic might be relevant: viewtopic.php?t=1376

Here is a pretty good list of many upgrades/ updates, software etc.
http://wiki.scramble.nl/index.php/Lockh ... ing_Falcon

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 06 Jun 2018, 18:54
by MVSGas
Her is another example how each aircraft is different, lets pick two F-16 with block 20 MLU status and same country with an easy noted difference:
78-0189 and 80-3596 are both listed as Block 20 MLU, both are RDAF aircraft, yet they have different Horizontal stabs. Just an example.

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 06 Jun 2018, 19:01
by Bjorn
Yes, that's a unique setup. The Danish are the only ones who kept some small stabs with the MLU jets instead of equipping them with the larger ones. They are limited in their possibilities lacking the air-to-ground features for obvious reasons.

Greets,

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 06 Jun 2018, 19:29
by basher54321
MVSGas wrote:Regarding blocks going through updates/upgrades and still being refer to as block 10 or 15, their not. Most are referred as block 20. For example
Here is a list of all aircraft updated to block 20
http://www.f-16.net/aircraft-database/v ... ctype/F-16

Are the MLUs really referred to as Block 20s? because they certainly are not Block 20 airframes and that is a great example of why calling them Block 20s seems totally wrong and misleading.

For a start Block 20 was an actual production block of brand new F-16As starting in July 1996, Block 15 OCU airframe + Block 50 wings + tail and APG-66(v)3

This Block 10 here is listed as a Block 20
http://www.f-16.net/aircraft-database/F ... ofile/189/

Yet not only does it still have the small tail as you correctly mention, it was never structurally upgraded around the air inlet according to Danish sources. (It never got the Block 20 capability as manufactured)

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 06 Jun 2018, 20:17
by basher54321
Here is what Lockheed had to say about it

B20-1.JPG

Code One wrote:Block 20 refers to new-production F-16s that incorporate significant avionic and structural enhancements. Many of these enhancements are supported by a modular mission computer that replaces three other computers and has faster processing and a large growth capacity. The aircraft's improved version of the APG-66 radar, called the APG-66(V)has many new features, such as increased...

B20-2.JPG

Code One wrote:Indeed. many of these capabilities will find their way into USAF F-16s within the next five years through several upgrade programs European F-16s are these improved capabilities already through the Mid-Life Update program. Furthermore, the current production configuration of the block 50/52 F-16 aircraft, some of which are going to USAF, also have many of these advances.

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 07 Jun 2018, 07:17
by MVSGas
Bacher54321,
The only newly built block 20 I know of are ROCAF F-16A, all others are updated earlier blocks. Those ROCAF F-16 are now entering MLU as well.
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/a ... 2003663237

This is a direct pdf link
http://www.dtic.mil/descriptivesum/Y201 ... B_2015.pdf
FY 2013 Accomplishments:
CAPES AESA UCA was awarded as part of the Radar Modernization Program (RMP), AESA vendor selection occurred 4QFY13,
test assets were procured and Radar NRE began toward a preliminary system design to meet common requirements in the co-
development of the AESA radars with the Taiwan Air Force.


Additionally, that code one article is dated since now USAF Block 40, 42, 50 and 52 have all those items AFAIK.

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 07 Jun 2018, 08:50
by basher54321
The point was that Block 20 only refers to those airframes manufactured from 1996 and the article
describes what Lockheed consider a block 20 is - the second clip was to show that there was no mention that all MLUs were now going to be called Block 20 which is pretty logical - if someone has any ref where lockheed changed their mind then great.

The MLUs mostly not only had different airframes but different capabilities (e.g. different radar version). Having some similarities to a different block doesnt make it a different block.

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 07 Jun 2018, 11:27
by MVSGas
I guess we should contact LM and tell them their website is wrong
For the past 30 years, the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) has defended its skies with Lockheed Martin products starting with F-104 Starfighters and continuing today with the F-16A/B MLU Block 20 Fighting Falcon.

https://www.lockheedmartin.com/en-us/wh ... aiwan.html

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 07 Jun 2018, 12:39
by basher54321
Yes not really helping things - because technically it can only become an MLU after an actual MLU in which case Block 20 MLU would be correct for the ROC jets ;) - and the hodgepodge of EPAF jets still remain as Block 10 MLU etc



In a similar manner a block 40 CCIP is an upgraded Block 40. It has more capabilty over the baseline and has a lot of similarities to Block 50 CCIP but doesnt become referred to as Block 50.

to add - as you mention the block 20 upgrade to F-16V - although that essentially is the MLU maybe Block 20 MLUV is better - or suggestions on a postcard.

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 07 Jun 2018, 17:43
by MVSGas
I going to need to right this down basher, break it down for me.
Ok so F-16A block 15 are MLU not block 20. Do we include all MLU or specific country? Which update do we include MLU?
Pacer spark, Pacer SLIP, Pacer AMSTEL, Pacer ICSS, etc?
Does it matter is LM, TAI, Fokker or Sabca made the update/upgrade?

An then you want USAF updated block 40/42 to be block 50/52 after CCIP? Ok but after Falcon STAR and Falcon up, do we call them Block 40/42 MLU? Now after they get SLEP, do we call the USAF Block 40 End of life Update (EOLU)?

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 07 Jun 2018, 18:09
by basher54321
The database already has some of that information in it MVS:

http://www.f-16.net/aircraft-database/F ... ofile/189/

  • Country
  • Block
  • Manufacturer
  • Dates

So yes you could potentially do it however the admins probably don't have the time and a lot of specific update information is unavailable I imagine.

However if an aircraft is listed in there with the wrong block or other information then generally it can help to point that out.

What do you want to talk about next MVS - the actual speed limiting factor on an F-16 or why the F-16 didn't have Sparrows from the off :D

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 07 Jun 2018, 18:18
by MVSGas
Any F-16 topic is fine, but there is so much about this one you have not told me.
So, 78-0189: Would that be block 10 MLU or Partial MLU?

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 07 Jun 2018, 19:54
by Bjorn
To end the block discussion. We decided to refer to MLU jets as block 20 MLU already back in 1998 guys. That's 20 years ago! Why did we do this? Because at that time we thought that only later block 15 or block 15OCU jets would be upgraded and they would all be brought on the same standard. Down the road we discovered what has been discussed. But we are not going to refer to block 10MLU or block 15MLU. The difference between the EPAF jets and RoCAF is indeed referred to as plain block 20 for the Taiwanese and block 20MLU for the EPAF countries (and later others who upgraded older jets).

We have been recently discussing on indeed entering another designation for block 40/42/50/52 jets who have been going through the CCIP program (for at least the block 50/52 jets we know which ones are updated). And are also thinking about entering the older block 30/32 jets who have been updated in some kind of way. But some research has to be done on that one.

More recently the whole block 70/72 or F-16V discussion has been included in that. What is certain is that new-build airframes will be referred to as block 70/72. We might call the upgraded airframes block 70/72V to als mark the difference there. But we haven't decided on that one.

Greets,

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 07 Jun 2018, 20:24
by basher54321
MVSGas wrote:Any F-16 topic is fine, but there is so much about this one you have not told me.
So, 78-0189: Would that be block 10 MLU or Partial MLU?

Unable to find any recent photos however it looks like it has a Block 10 inlet with data probe, small tail and will take confident punt at no beer cans on the wings so looks very much like a Block 10 with AIFF.
As of 2016 it looks like there was only three Danish F-16A Block 10s left in service (apparently).

Partial MLU?

Structural
Only requirement for MLU AFAIK appears to be mods to extend life time (PACER SLIP) no requirement to change wings or inlets etc.

Engine
That must be a PW-200 because they did not purchase PW-220Es until 2013.

Software
Apparently these were left at an older Tape 4.3 in 2016 unlike the rest of the Danish fleet.

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 07 Jun 2018, 20:27
by basher54321
Bjorn wrote:To end the block discussion. We decided to refer to MLU jets as block 20 MLU already back in 1998 guys. That's 20 years ago! Why did we do this? Because at that time we thought that only later block 15 or block 15OCU jets would be upgraded and they would all be brought on the same standard. Down the road we discovered what has been discussed. But we are not going to refer to block 10MLU or block 15MLU. The difference between the EPAF jets and RoCAF is indeed referred to as plain block 20 for the Taiwanese and block 20MLU for the EPAF countries (and later others who upgraded older jets).


Many thanks for the clarification Bjorn :beer:

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 08 Jun 2018, 15:44
by Boman
One musn't forget that all aircraft go through developement through its lifetime, so also with the F-16.

Some of these updates have in the past been captured in the A/B/C/D etc. designation, however many "smaller" mod's are captured in the block updates.
Of these, the change of the small- to larger tailplanes from Block 1/5/10 to 15 is one example.

All the MLU's are denoted by AM/BM as the official designation, same with CCIP'ed F-16CM/DMs which are essentially block 40/42/50/52's. This is seen in the stenciling below the cockpit of upgraded aircraft.
Formally though, only the ROCAF Vipers are block 20's.

I believe it now is standard US policy to use the A, B, C designation to differenciate between various types of the same aircraft, ie F-35A/B/C, while the block in today's hightech world refers to the software updates an aircraft have gone through. This because the use of A/B/C/D don't correctly capture the current mod's of anyone aircraft, and the biggest updates these days are in software rather than hardware.

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 08 Jun 2018, 15:51
by Bjorn
Niels, that's absolutely correct. But for us it is impossible to capture all those upgrades. In the future, with the F-35, it will even be harder and most probable no blocks will be present in our database since we won't know (after initial delivery) to which block they are upgraded.

Greets,

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 08 Jun 2018, 17:41
by MVSGas
Bjorn,
Thank for the info. I think the database is fine the way it is. It would be impossible to follow each specific update.

basher54321,
Again, AFAIK, MLU is not a black and white update. Is not item A through D. Each country did theirs differently. So unless you have access to each aircraft jacked files and can tell me all ECP/TCTO they receive and when, we have no idea what updates they went through while undergoing MLU.

Additionally, again AFAIK (I am not expert on any of this) F100-PW-220E are updated F100-PW-100/200, not newly bought engines.

Finally, about the tapes, they would have a TCTO/ECP number to them. You would need specifics on what aircraft got updated when.

Have you ever seen a F-16 Technical Manual (or Tech Order /T.O) Typically on the front of the books they list the TCTO/ECP that are relevant to that specific TO. They also list the specific serial numbers of they aircraft that manual applies to.
here is a F-16A-1 for example
http://www.avialogs.com/viewer/avialogs ... p?id=15535
On page vi the ECP/TCTO start. You can see they have codes for each country. Some have specific aircraft tail numbers.

So updates are not black and white, you would have to know specifics on each aircraft.

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 08 Jun 2018, 20:27
by basher54321
Thankyou MVS I did kind of mention above I somewhat doubt the information is available to do it to that level of granularity.

Denmark purchased 50 used PW-220E sorry missed that part out - so will have to assume used PW-200s with the PW-220E upgrade kit.

All remaining Danish Block 10s are at MLU Tape 4.3 it states.

The Lock Mart MLU Tape manuals with all the features also have an ECP number probably related but cant really list the detail on here.


I don't know if there is a language barrier here but you do realise that when I mentioned the CCIP (F-16CM) mod it was because it is a publicly known major milestone just like MLU (F-16AM). Both incorporate various blocks of aircraft and both CCIP and MLU are significantly different in capability to the original blocks they started life as.

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 08 Jun 2018, 20:35
by Boman
The MLU program is from the outset a generic program, so all MLU updated aircraft are equal. So also the CCIP program, which is directed at the block 40/42/50/52's. After a couple of upgrades, the MLU and CCIP merged, but I don't know exactly from which update-version (believe maybe 2.0 or 3.0 or thereabout?)
EDIT: Ofcourse some elements of the CCIP program has not been exported to all customers of the F-16, but most are)

The whole point of the MLU program was to exchange the analoge computers in the F-16A/B's with digital computers, exactly to allow further upgrades with minimal hardware upgrades.

While some nations have "stopped" on ie MLU 5.1 others are at ie MLU 7.1. So yes, they are different however the 5.1 update is equal across those who have completed it. (5.1 used as example only!)

The main driver here is each nations ability to fund updates, and not atleast the priority they give to updates. This again is tied to how long each nation plans on using the F-16 compared to bying new fighters like the F-35.

As an anecdote, the block designation actually started back in the early 1940's with the P-40 Warhawk.

Bjørn: I fully support that you and the other mod's wouldn't be able to follow the block updates of the F-35 series. In the end it probably doesn't matter in the end - except for the biggest nerds among us (me included 8) )

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 09 Jun 2018, 07:17
by Bjorn
Niels,

What you say about the merger tapes is correct . But now they are driving apart again. This is due to the phasing out of the F-16 with the most EPAF countries in the coming years. So up until M6 they were equal, but the 'final' EPAF tape now is M6.5, while the US refers to it as M7. This is pure politics and has nothing to do with the features of the tape. Most probably the US will continue on the same line with an M8 and even further to follow since their upgraded F-16s will go to the 2040's. What will happen with the upgraded A/B models (for example Portugal who is also flying longer with the F-16) is to be seen.

Greets,

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 09 Jun 2018, 21:07
by Boman
Thanks Bjørn

If I'm not mistaken Portugal is one country that have so far only upgraded to MLU 5.1, atleast the ones sold to Romania are to this standard.
A bit surprising that updates for the EPAF are not continuing, given that there will still be plenty of them flying in the years to come? After all, not all EPAF nations will transition to the F-35 (yet)?

Re: F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

Unread postPosted: 10 Jun 2018, 08:04
by Bjorn
Well, it's kind of normal. In the original MLU update plan (back in the nineties) it was intended to do 5 round of updates (up to an M5). Down the road (with more development on the F-16 platform in general) new demands for those aircraft were stipulated which made the F-16 program office and all EPAF partners decide to go for a 6th update (M6). By the time this was tested it was 2011-2012. Most EPAF countries had decided by then that their fleet would be replaced by the F-35 in the 2018-2023 timeframe.

But development continued and so an M7 was constructed. No problem for USAF, but the EPAF partners (and specifically the Netherlands and Norway) didn't want to go there. So to make it possible for those countries to do these updates it was decided to call them M6.5 so it could be 'sold' to the politicians as minor update in the M6 stack on which the budget could be foreseen without any major discussion.

The only countries in Europe to keep flying the older F-16s are only Portugal and Romania (for now). Belgium will probably decide very soon on its successor (finally), so they fall in the same category of the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark. I think Portugal is now upgrading their own planes to M6.5. The reason why the Romanian ones or on M5.1 is because this order dates from before the M6 update cycle for the Portuguese aircraft. But I presume the Romanians will update to M6.5 in the future as well. But what will happen afterwards is yet to be seen. Those two countries will fly those aircraft for another 20 years. That's a long time without any updates. But on the other hand. The older F-16s have been updated to a point in which not a lot of more capabilities can be added. If you want to keep them up-to-date you have to start with some major updates like replacing the radar with an AESA version and some other major updates. Then were not talking about a continuation of the MLU stack no more, but something in the neighborhood of a SLEP with F-16V block 72 kind of thing I think.

Greets,