F-16 Block Versions and Software Tapes

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planehazza

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Unread post05 Jun 2018, 09:35

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!
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basher54321

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Unread post05 Jun 2018, 10:16

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.
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planehazza

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Unread post05 Jun 2018, 11:32

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.
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basher54321

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Unread post05 Jun 2018, 12:27

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.
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planehazza

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Unread post06 Jun 2018, 08:00

What's with the thread renaming? :D
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basher54321

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Unread post06 Jun 2018, 09:33

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.
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Lieven

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Unread post06 Jun 2018, 09:48

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.
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MVSGas

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Unread post06 Jun 2018, 18:27

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
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MVSGas

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Unread post06 Jun 2018, 18:54

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.
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Bjorn

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Unread post06 Jun 2018, 19:01

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.

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basher54321

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Unread post06 Jun 2018, 19:29

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)
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basher54321

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Unread post06 Jun 2018, 20:17

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.
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MVSGas

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Unread post07 Jun 2018, 07:17

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.
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basher54321

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Unread post07 Jun 2018, 08:50

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.
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MVSGas

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Unread post07 Jun 2018, 11:27

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
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