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Belgium requests F-16 software upgrade for its Block 20 MLU's

May 13, 2014 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Belgium has requested an operational flight program software upgrade to further enhance the capabilities of its F-16A/B block 20 Mid Life Upgrade (MLU) fighters.

BAF F-16AM #FA-106 from 349 sqn is returning to Kleine Brogel AB on March 25th, 2008 armed with a JDAM bomb. [Photo by Mike Schoenmaker]

Belgium would like to upgrade those jets with Operational Flight Program (OFP) tapes S1, M5 and M6.

Worth a potential $113 million, the proposed Foreign Military Sales deal with the US government, which is mostly focused on avionics and communications, would include:
  • 69 LN-260 Embedded Global Positioning System-Inertial Navigation Systems (GPS-INS),
  • 8 Remote Operated Video Enhanced Receivers IV (ROVER IV),
  • 62 AN/APX-125 Transceivers (AN/APX-125 Air Identification Friend of Foe (IFF) Radios)
  • 32 KIV-78 IFF Cryptographic Appliqué,
  • 1 Joint Mission Planning System (JMPS),
  • 4 BRU-61/A Carriage Systems, and
  • 43 AN/ARC-210(V) RT-1990(C) Ultra High Frequency/Very High Frequency (UHF/VHF) Receiver Transmitters.

Also included are spare and repair parts, support equipment, repair and return services, software development/ integration, test and equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor technical services, and other related elements of logistics and program support.

The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control in Orlando, Florida.

Belgium has a current active fleet of 49 F-16A fighters and 10 B-model trainers, according to the aircraft database, which records these as having been delivered between 1982 and 1991.

This particular approval is part of a wider MLU program for Belgium's F-16 fleet. The latest M6.1 standard being rolled out by the end of the year will see all Belgium F-16s able to carry the GBU-54 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition (LJDAM), AIM-120D AMRAAM, and either the AIM-9X Sidewinder or IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missile. Other M6.1 enhancements include new software, improved GPS, enhanced precision munitions capability, Link 16 tactical datalink, and the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS).

With an average number of 200 flight hours per year the fleet will need to be replaced somewhere between 2022 en 2031, which is why Belgium is also considered a potential future customer for Lockheed's new-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Additional images:

M6.1 MLU EOA Team [Willem Schouten collection]

A Belgian Air Force F-16 trio is flying above the clouds during a photo shoot. [DG-IPR photo]