What upgrades make a Block 60 into a Block 61?

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dawes

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Unread post24 Jan 2014, 19:57

Wonder what upgrades make a Block 60 into a Block 61?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has requested a possible sale of equipment in support of its commercial purchase of 30 F-16 Block 61 aircraft and to support the upgrade of its existing F-16 Block 60 aircraft.


http://www.dsca.mil/sites/default/files ... _13-60.pdf
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Lieven

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Unread post24 Jan 2014, 21:57

Also see: United Arab Emirates to purchase 30 F-16s Block 61?

BTW, the UAE and Lockheed Martin have reportedly been in talks about an F-16 buy for at least a year and a half, particularly since an offer by France to sell UAE an advanced version of its Rafale combat jet didn't pan out.
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glendora

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Unread post25 Jan 2014, 01:05

From the original text:

The estimated cost is $270 million


For 30 new a/c + retrofitting of previous fleet? I think that a communication error could have been occurred.
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dawes

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Unread post25 Jan 2014, 19:24

I believe the $270 million figure refers to the cost of Government Furnished Equipment and other upgrades/modifications, and not the cost of the aircraft themselves.
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h-bomb

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Unread post25 Jan 2014, 21:17

Yeah AV week had the cost at almost $200M each.

Block 61? Guesses:

  • Replace/upgrade: Northrop Grumman AN/ASQ-28 IFTS as the B60's have been seen with external targeting pods.
  • Upgrade ASPJ it is what 20 years old now?

They may also be replaced parts from the 60 with parts on the F-16V update. For commonality and upgrades of parts that are obsolete, or out of production. Anything that was Block 60 unique, and hard to find, may be targeted for replacement.
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neurotech

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Unread post26 Jan 2014, 04:59

h-bomb wrote:Yeah AV week had the cost at almost $200M each.

Block 61? Guesses:

  • Replace/upgrade: Northrop Grumman AN/ASQ-28 IFTS as the B60's have been seen with external targeting pods.
  • Upgrade ASPJ it is what 20 years old now?

They may also be replaced parts from the 60 with parts on the F-16V update. For commonality and upgrades of parts that are obsolete, or out of production. Anything that was Block 60 unique, and hard to find, may be targeted for replacement.

One possibility is that there is some hardware spun-off from the JSF program, such as radar, targeting and EA systems that could actually fit on a new F-16. The SABR AESA radar would be one clear choice and already selected by the USAF. The mission computers could also be upgraded to similar level hardware as the F-35 Integrated Core Processor (ICP) boards.

Apparently, the Block 60 APG-80 radar was rather heavy in weight, power and cooling.

Flight Global and others state the $200m Program Unit Cost, which is pretty high. The F-16V apparently has a "unit cost" (flyaway?) for about $70-$80m, so something doesn't quite match for these jets to be F-16Vs by another name.
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geogen

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Unread post26 Jan 2014, 05:56

h-bomb made some interesting guesses as to possible blk 61 upgrades. I was thinking possibly some upgraded displays too, as well as EW system and computer -- to better correlate with latest upgrade path, et al, as noted by h-bomb.

neurotech's suggestion of a more standardized AESA radar, e.g., SABR, would seem to be plausible too.

With respect to the idea though, which I think was being implied here, that the reported $200 Program Unit Cost reflects a 'high cost', let's look at that for a minute.

We're basically talking 80 aircraft for constituting a next-generation, all-new capability upgrade to the legacy F-16 line. An all-inclusive capability including upgraded GE-132 motor, cft, improved EW and enhanced avionics/situational awareness which was truly visionary, game-changing and fielded a variant superior to any USAF F-16.

Seriously, what would have been the 'Program unit cost' if Super Hornet had stopped production at a mere 80 units, let alone God forbid, the F-35 at just 187 units?

Let's put our thinking caps on for a minute and better analyze the value of said F-16's modernization track and further potential as a cost-effective, modern multi-role platform. In my opinion at least.
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neurotech

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Unread post26 Jan 2014, 09:00

The F-16 Block 60 (& presumably Block 61) airframe uses mostly the same tooling and aerodynamic profile as the standard Block 50 jets. The F110-GE-132 engine (as I understand it) has significant commonality with the F110-GE-129. My understanding of the SABR radar is the array elements are somewhat common with the APG-81, as well as some of the radar signal processor boards. My questioning of the $200m WSUC figure is that its based on earlier variant (Block 60), and common technology (USAF "financed" SABR and existing F-35 program technology).

I can understand the non-recurring R&D costs being somewhat high for a new variant, but the recurring unit costs, not so much. A F-22 at end of production only cost $150m UFC, so how could a super-Viper cost $200m? Especially when a F-16IN only cost $58m (FY2008?) UFC and $110m PUC ($14bn for 126 jets).

The Super Hornet uses almost completely different airframe tooling as the earlier variant. The F414 engine core is significantly redesigned from the F404 so there is little common components. Its worth noting that some of the avionics upgrades in the F/A-18C/D are production Block II Super Hornet components.
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geogen

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Unread post27 Jan 2014, 02:11

My questioning of the $200m WSUC figure...



I think $200m was for the 'Program' cost, not WSUC?

I'd imagine WSUC would be pretty much in-line with whatever the F-16IN's WSUC would have cost.

The program cost for the original 80x block 60s apparently included some investment share in development of the enhanced EW suite, APG-80, e/o sensors and engine. Hence, said $200m unit Program cost arguably not being all that bad at all - considering an early 4.5 gen - for a nominal 80-jet run. (with said Avg unit cost obviously being reduced if more units were procured).

That said, it would indeed be interesting to ascertain the commercial WSUC (for a limited run) of the Block 61, vs say, F-16V. (F-16V possibly being common with the Blk 61, perhaps without integrated E/O sensors and the GE-132 motor).
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Coriolan

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Unread post27 Jan 2014, 05:01

I do not know much, but I have the impression that the Block 61 is a direct result from lesson learned during the war in Libya. By that I mean, maybe they figured out that some equipment they have lacks communication with some coalition partners or maybe they saw some capabilities that they liked in other airframes, or maybe they want to improve some capacities to be more "real time operational friendly".

Could be a possibility too no?
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Unread post27 Jan 2014, 21:15

Coriolan wrote:I do not know much, but I have the impression that the Block 61 is a direct result from lesson learned during the war in Libya. By that I mean, maybe they figured out that some equipment they have lacks communication with some coalition partners or maybe they saw some capabilities that they liked in other airframes, or maybe they want to improve some capacities to be more "real time operational friendly".

Could be a possibility too no?

You are probably correct in that datalink/network/real-time capability is what UAE is looking for. There is a datalink "pod" so other jets can use MADL with F-35s. Co-operative targeting and networked data-centric warfare is a major part of 4.75/5th gen capability. The Rafale airstrikes during Libyan operations used Mirage IVs for "laser" targeting. F/A-18E/F and EA-18Gs also assisted in targeting for the Rafale dropping bombs. The Rafale has been upgraded to F3 standard after Libya.

For the Block 61
- targeting sysem / IFTS
- Datalink for MADL F-35 compatibility. This is a big one considering how many F-35s around in the future.
- IR threat warning systems upgrade.
- EW package.
- Lightweight SABR AESA radar. (APG-68 size/weight/fit).

It seems the UAE want an effective strike fighter on a somewhat short delivery schedule. F-35As (if selected/approved) would take 5+ years to deliver. The F-16 minimum long-lead delivery is around 2 years, same for a F/A-18E/F. Currently, a partner F-35A takes about 3-4 years from firm order contract, long-lead purchase contract to delivery. For Australia, it looks like it'll be closer to 5 years.

The US Navy/DoD could theoretically transfer production F/A-18E/Fs to FMS/DCS if the Super Hornet was selected. I don't think LM have any Block 50+/Block 52+ "white tail" (company/unsold) F-16s at the moment. Some of the Egyptian F-16s that remain undelivered are technically DoD property, as I understand it.

If the new Block 61 airframes are basically Block 50/Block 70 production airframes with new electronics and engine, then the delivery time could still be under 3 years. Engines are fitted quite late in production, so that's not a major concern. I would suspect the engine thrust and fuel burn would also be a factor. The F-16E doesn't exactly have stellar T/W ratio either. Some sources mention an upgraded F110-GE-129 engine which uses technology from the -132. This would reduce the lead-time on a -132 "Block II" engine considerably. Most engines (F100, F110, F119, F135, F136, F414) have significant thrust growth available at the expense of hot section life.

From Scramble http://wiki.scramble.nl/index.php/Gener ... 110-GE-129
F110-GE-129
Production switched in 1994 to the higher rated -129. This is a low-bypass-ratio, mixed-flow, afterburning turbofan used to power Air Force F-16C/D aircraft and has also been qualified for the F-15E. This growth derivative of the F110-GE-100 entered service in 1992 and powers more than 75% of the USAF's single engine F-16 Block 50/52 aircraft. Under takeoff conditions, this engine can produce 28,737 pounds of thrust wet and 17,155 pounds of thrust dry. ...
F110-GE-132
Also known as the F110-GE-129 Enhanced Fighter Engine, this growth version of the F110-GE-129 is not currently in the Air Force inventory but could be used in US Air Force or international F-15E and F-16C/D customers. Existing F110-GE-129 engines can be modified to this configuration using kits available from General Electric. As in the corresponding Pratt & Whitney engine (F100-PW-232), GE’s F110–GE-132 has a more efficient and higher airflow fan with lower-aspect-ratio blades. As in the F100-PW-232, the F110-132’s improved fan can be used to increase the thrust of the engine or to extend the hot section design inspection interval to 6,000 TACs. All three rotors in this fan are blisks. The radial augmentor, derived from both the F414 and F120 engines, will continue to provide the pilot with unrestricted throttle capability throughout the entire envelope. The -132 engine is the highest thrust engine ever developed for the F-16. ...
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Viperdiver

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Unread post28 Jan 2014, 23:29

So the bottomline is no one really knows much about the Block 61. Take a look at this excerpt from a Flightglobal article dated 24 Jan 14:

"A routine disclosure by the US Department of Defense reveals the UAE has increased the size and scope of a potential Lockheed Martin F-16 order, which now includes a mysterious “Block 61” designation."

It goes on to read:

"The DSCA notice describes the new F-16s as “Block 61” aircraft. Lockheed was not immediately available to describe how the Block 61 is different than the 80 F-16 Block 60s purchased by the UAE more than a decade ago."

FYSA.
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geogen

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Unread post29 Jan 2014, 05:48

Perhaps one observation of interest is that DSCA's disclosure of F-15SA components contained in the proposed sale were very specific, to include the radar model, type of EW suite and other systems, including passive sensors/tgt pods.
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neurotech

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Unread post29 Jan 2014, 21:09

geogen wrote:Perhaps one observation of interest is that DSCA's disclosure of F-15SA components contained in the proposed sale were very specific, to include the radar model, type of EW suite and other systems, including passive sensors/tgt pods.

One conclusion is that Boeing already had a firm idea what was going into the F-15SA due to previous export clearance on the F-15SE.

As I suggested earlier, its likely that Lockheed is still balancing the F-16 Block 50+, Block 60, Block 70 (F-16V) baseline specifications when determining the components used. Even though some components are almost drop-in compatible, the political considerations are not so smooth. R&D funding, unit cost and export clearance can effect component choices. The DoD funding for the SABR AESA might not be available as planned. Don't forget that mission systems integration and configuration clearance for the software can still be a expensive headache.
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Unread post04 Feb 2014, 02:13

I'm surprised they didn't opt for an F-2A wing and a moveable airflow inlet while they are at it. /sarcasm

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