December 8, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The newest, most advanced Lockheed Martin F-16 completed a successful first flight on Saturday.The aircraft is the first of the block 60 line, which has been designated the F-16E/F version. It is the first of 80 F-16E/F Block 60 aircraft being produced for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) under an order placed in early 2000.
The first UAEAF F-16F block 60. Note the Conformal Fuel Tanks, Internal Flir housing, and the numerous bulges for RWRs.
The aircraft's designation, F-16E/F
, recognizes the major structural, avionics and propulsion enhancements in this practically all-new version of the Fighting Falcon. The last designation change, the F-16C/D, was introduced with the block 25
version in 1984.
Following takeoff, Lockheed Martin F-16E/F chief test pilot Steve Barter put the F-16 through an initial flight-test profile that included evaluation of the on-board avionics systems and aircraft handling characteristics. Flight duration was about 50 minutes.
"This was not just an ''around the airfield'' exercise," Barter said. "We flew some important test points and made this a meaningful flight-test sortie. Not only was this important historically, it was the first and crucial element of our flight-test program."
"First flight affirms our commitment to produce the world''s most cutting-edge fighter, which cannot be rivaled in its combination of speed, technology and capability," said John L. Bean, Lockheed Martin vice president for F-16 programs.
The F-16E/F resembles earlier F-16 aircraft in appearance only. Internally, the block 60
has an all-new cockpit that features all-digital instruments and three 5x7-inch color displays. It is powered by a General Electric F110-GE
-132 engine that produces 32,500 pounds of thrust. Additionally, the F-16E/F features a new avionics suite with highlights including a revolutionary Electronic Warfare (EW) system, the new APG-80 Agile Beam Radar (ABR) and a new Integrated FLIR
Targeting System (IFTS
), all provided by Northrop Grumman.
First production deliveries of the UAE
aircraft are slated for April 2004.