Fighter Jet News

F-16 Fighting Falcon News

More progress on F-16 Technical Documentation

March 10, 2004 (by Eric L. Palmer) - The following Lockheed Martin press release explains several interesting details of the worldwide potential for all F-16 users getting more and more of their technical documentation that is traditionally paper and moving it toward an electronic format.
While this idea isn't new, it seems that more progess has been made in this area from lessons learned in other new high tech jet fighter programs that use electronic manuals from the start: block 60 F-16, F/A-22, F-35 and (not mentioned in the press release) the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Press Release, March 10 - Lockheed Martin has made great strides in preparing to introduce a system of paperless technical manuals for the worldwide F-16 fleet. These computer- accessible electronic guides will eventually replace the mounds of paper documents that currently accompany each delivered Fighting Falcon.

The F-16 International Technical Order Digitization (ITOD) program is paving the way for electronic manual support of next-generation fighters such as the F/A-22 and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. In addition, it could save hundreds of millions of dollars over the decades-long service life that remains for some 3,000 F-16s in 24 countries.

One aspect of the initiative is validating the feasibility of creating multiple international versions of F-16 Electronic Training Manuals (ETM) from a single database. Seventeen countries that operate the F-16 are participating in the development and test stage of the document authoring program, which began in 2001 and will conclude in September 2004, when implementation of the F-16 ETMs begins.

Last summer, the U.S. Air Force and four other countries participated in hands-on demonstrations of the F-16 ETMs and reviewed the process used to create common and country-unique databases for F-16 manuals.

F-16 ITOD responds to the Department of Defense's Electronic Commerce Initiative and U.S. Air Force's Lightning Bolt initiative for reduction of total military aircraft ownership costs.

More than 1.4 million pages of F-16 technical manuals exist worldwide at maintenance facilities. Each country that operates the Fighting Falcon has a unique set of manuals comprising about 250 volumes and 50,000 pages, making updates intensive, slow and costly.

About 60 percent of the information in F-16 technical manuals is common across the 24 using countries. Electronic formatting in a single, composite database will leverage this commonality and result in an estimated cost savings of 24 percent in the technical update of the data. When you consider the savings on printing, distribution and technical library updates for hundreds of manuals at bases located around the world, the savings for the U.S. Air Force alone could be about $500 million over the remaining life of the F-16.

"The F-16 is still in production and will still be in service more than 25 years from now," said Brian Landrum, USAF ITOD program manager. "The conversion to ETMs will certainly pay for itself many times over. In addition, we are paving the way for the next-generation, multi-variant, multi- service, multinational fighter, the F-35."

In a related effort, the U.S. Air Force is establishing an infrastructure to distribute electronic Technical Orders worldwide and hopes to have portable displays fielded in 2006.

As prime contractor for the F-16 ITOD program, Lockheed Martin has made a substantial investment in developing a world-class publishing and conversion tool suite known as VISTA (Virtually Integrated System for Technical Authoring). VISTA is based on efforts originally pioneered with the F-117 stealth fighter for its Interactive Electronic Technical Order system. VISTA converts legacy databases and provides a standard electronic format. It is currently being used at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company facilities in Fort Worth, Tex., and Palmdale, Calif., and plans are in place to expand it to other aircraft programs at Lockheed Martin's Marietta, Ga., site.

"ETMs are the maintainers' contribution in the era of digital battle space," said William B. Anderson, vice president of Customer Support at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. "The F/A-22, the United Arab Emirates Block 60 F-16 program and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will use electronic technical manuals from the beginning. We look forward to implementing them across all of our fielded aircraft programs as soon as possible."