May 3, 2006 (by Capt. Donna Gindle) - The 388th Fighter Wing took to the skies for the inaugural flight of its first combat-ready Common Configuration Implementation Program F-16 (block 40) fighter today.
USAF F-16C block 50 #96-0080 of 23 FS from Spangdahlem seen at Dijon AB on June 27th, 2004. Note the bubble canopy and the AIFF 'bird slicers' showing this aircraft has already received the CCIP upgrade. [Photo by Stefaan Ellebaut]
The fighter emerged after five months and more than 5,000 total crew hours of work by the Ogden Air Logistics Center's 309th Maintenance Wing at Hill Air Force Base, with advanced avionics systems, an improved interface between the pilot and the aircraft and structural, electrical and software enhancements.
represents the biggest capability jump for the F-16 in well over 25 years," said Lt. Col. Garry Van der Veer, 34th Fighter Squadron commander and pilot of the recently modified fighter.
CCIP is the largest avionics upgrade program to the F-16 fleet. Its structural and electrical enhancements upgrade the weapon system's capability and will extend the aircraft's service life well into the future.
Two major components of CCIP modifications are the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System and the Link-16.
The Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System equips the pilot with a heads-up display helmet visor and enables the pilot to select an air or ground target without changing the jet's direction. Aircraft sensors follow the pilot's head, lock onto the target and display targeting information over the pilot's right eye to launch weapons in a nearly seamless "look, lock and launch" action.
The Link-16 datalink enhances United States and coalition partner aircraft into a joint service, multinational system that provides situational awareness data and command and control functions to a connected community of users.
"Link-16 increases situational awareness, mutual support, targeting effectiveness and real-time control of assets," Colonel Van der Veer said. "On a 4-inch by 4-inch screen we can tell where the friendly forces are located on the ground in relation to the enemy forces and where everyone is in the air. This situational awareness will reduce the fratricide potential."
Colonel Van der Veer said that the helmet and the Link-16 will give F-16 pilots "enhanced battlespace awareness" while flying. The 34th Fighter Squadron weapons officer, Captain Epperson added, "The combination of Link-16 and the helmet targeting capabilities will enable us to reduce the kill chain time, to support troops in danger on the ground, from several minutes to just seconds."
Other components of CCIP are:
- New modular mission computer (the brains of the jet) for increased processor power
- Monochrome displays replaced with color multi-function displays, which communicate more information, more efficiently, giving pilots the ability to process more information about the surrounding battlespace
- New capability to drop Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM). JASSM is a stealthy precision cruise missile designed for launch from outside enemy surface-to-air defenses to kill hard or soft targets without putting pilots at risk
"If we had the CCIP modifications when we were deployed to Iraq last year," Colonel Van der Veer said, "we would've been able to tie in with the folks on the ground and had enhanced and quicker target acquisitions.
"The Air Force has taken this 20th century fighter, and through the CCIP upgrade, enhanced it with 21st century warfighting capability," said Colonel Van der Veer.
Pilots and maintainers must undergo training and Colonel Van der Veer said that by the end of July, they'll be a CCIP-qualified squadron.
The 34th FS
is receiving five CCIP-modified jets a month, and will have its full complement by August â€“ just in time for the 34th FS as it enters the Aerospace Expeditionary Forces rotation cycle in September.
"The men and women of the CCIP program at Ogden ALC are extremely pleased with the partnership developed with the 388th Fighter Wing," said Leroy Sykes, CCIP section chief. "Our goal is to provide a reliable and quality product that our customers can fly and use with confidence immediately upon receipt from the Depot."