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Well, it looks like the F-16 will have to last a little longer. Is the USAF anticipating F-35 cuts?
Defense News wrote:U.S. Air Force To Upgrade 300 F-16s
By DAVE MAJUMDAR 2 Nov 2011 18:45
The U.S. Air Force will upgrade between 300 and 350 F-16C Block 40 and 50 fighters with new avionics and increased airframe life, a three-star general said before Congress.
Testifying Nov. 2, Lt. Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, Air Force deputy chief for operations, plans and requirements, also said the service doesn't have enough trained UAV pilots, and that the U-2 isn't quite ready for retirement.
"You hear an announcement fairly quickly from the United States Air Force, we're going to [service life extension program (SLEP)] and avionics modernize probably in the vicinity 300 to 350 F-16s,".
That number could climb to 600 aircraft, Carlisle said, but it is not likely the Air Force will have to upgrade so many jets.
The modernized jets will be crucial to maintaining the Air National Guard (ANG) and Air Force Reserve fighter force. It will also help maintain the Air Force's dwindling arsenal of tactical fighters before the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) becomes operational.
Although the service doesn't yet know when the F-35 will become operational, the aircraft will likely miss the current projected date of 2016. The aircraft will likely become fully operational in 2018, Carlisle said, but the service is not naming an official date until the new master schedule is complete.
There is money in fiscal 2012 budget to develop a modernization program for the F-16, Carlisle said. The Air Force will start developing the avionics modernization plan soon, he said.
Maj. Gen. Jay Lindell, Air Force director of global power programs, said the airframe life of the F-16 would be increased from 8,000 to "at least" 10,000 hours. That would afford the Air Force eight more years of operations using the old aircraft, he said.
"We're looking at capability through the next decade, which would be through 2030," Lindell said.
Each plane would cost $9.4 million, he said, so the Air Force wants to get its money's worth.
The scope of the modernization plan for the F-16 fleet and the fielding of the stealthy new F-35 depends on the forthcoming integrated master schedule for the new jet, Carlisle said. The F-35 will be fielded to ANG units, starting with the Vermont ANG, he said.
With the upgrades, the F-16 could be serving for decades to come.
Source: http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i= ... =AME&s=AIR
Last edited by 1st503rdsgt on 03 Nov 2011, 18:30, edited 2 times in total.