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Israel launches program to upgrade its F-16 fleet

January 25, 2006 (by Michaw) - Together with the F-15s, the F-16s make up the backbone of Israel's fighter force. The IDF/AF's main fighter is the F-16 Fighting Falcon, including the aging F-16 A/B Netz ("Falcon"), the F-16C/D Barak ("Lightning") and the new two-seater, the F-16I block 52+ Soufa ("Storm").

IDFAF F-16I "Sufa" Block 52+ in production at Lockheed Martin [LMTAS photo]

Israel has the largest F-16 fleet outside the United States. Most of the aircraft have been heavily modified though with Israeli avionics, self-protection systems, weapons, and sometimes radars as well.

While Israel's F-16A/B Netz inventory may well be sold on the international market as the Soufas arrive, their F-16 C/D planes are expected to serve the Air Force Corps until at least 2020. To keep their edge, Israel is about to spend a large budget to improve and upgrade them.

Announced improvement for the F-16 C/Ds will include an upgrade of the command and control systems in the F-16I Soufa, and a replacement of the cockpit displays with more advanced color versions.

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