May 9, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Lockheed Martin officials, along with officers from the United States and Italian Air Forces, participated in a rollout ceremony today at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, for the first of 34 F-16 fighter aircraft to be provided to Italy under a program known as "Peace Caesar."
The Italian AF accepted the first F-16A (#MM7238) at the Ogden ALC on May 16th, 2003. This particular aircraft wears 37 Stormo markings. [USAF photo by Todd Cromar]
The Italian Air Force chose the leased F-16 option as the most cost-effective solution to replace its aging fleet of Tornado and F-104 fighters. The lease is for five years with a five-year follow-on option. Four non-flyable F-16 aircraft are being supplied for generation of spare parts.
"The F-16 being rolled out here today is the result of more than two years of effort at Hill Air Force Base that have produced an F-16 fighter jet with additional airframe service life, an upgraded engine and other modifications," said Robert T. Elrod, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company's executive vice president of programs. "This was a complex program, and the teamwork it took to make it happen is unmatched. The U.S. Air Force has done a tremendous job getting this plane ready, and Lockheed Martin stands ready to fulfill its obligations after the plane is delivered to Italy
Approximately 100 Italian Air Force maintenance officers, instructors and technicians are receiving F-16 maintenance training at Lockheed Martin facilities in Fort Worth, Texas. Italian instructors in Italy will train an additional 181 Italian maintenance technicians.
The Air Force and Lockheed Martin are also providing other types of logistics support as part of the Peace Caesar Foreign Military Sales Program, to include supply chain management and full engineering technical services.
Brought up from Davis-Monthan AFB
, Ariz. the five Falcons which will be delivered to Italy in the next few weeks have undergone 220 days of refurbishment and upgrades.
The Falcons were given a complete refurbishment, which complied with all technical compliance-technical orders that have changed since the aircraft was placed in stasis in Arizona. The depot teams at Hill AFB did structural modifications including Falcon-Up, which replaces particular bulkheads and the structural life improvement program, which strengthens holes around the fuel cell panels and wheel wells by compressing the molecules with 30,000 pounds of pressure. The wings were removed and the bulkhead furthest aft that holds the vertical wing was replaced. The landing gear was refurbished and its bulkhead was also replaced.
The flight controls actuators are replaced with new actuators. In addition the computers and instruments that provide the Falcon its technological edge are removed, sent to the appropriate facilities to be tested then repaired if necessary. All equipment that is a time change item, one that must be changed after so many take-offs and landings or after a certain amount hours, that has less than a full year's worth of service left is changed, according to Hansen.
The A and B model planes were built between 1978 and 1982 but these will be like new planes. They bead blast them to the metal and then paint the Italian color scheme.
Italy will receive four B model F-16s, which are two-seater aircraft and will possibly be used to train IAF pilots, who have never flown a Falcon before. The final delivery of Falcons to Italy is scheduled for November 2004.