UAE F-16 program .
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Chief of UAE army views final assembly of first Block 60s

May 26, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Lt. Gen. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, Chief of Staff of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Armed Forces, and his delegation visited Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth plant on May 23 to review the status of the UAE F-16 program .

The visit included a program status briefing, a tour of the block 60 program area and a demonstration in the Block 60 F-16 flight simulator. During a tour of the factory, the delegation observed that the forward, center and aft fuselage sections of the first UAE F-16 are in final assembly.

The delegation also was able to meet with Lockheed Martin executives and with UAE pilots and project team members residing in the United States.

The UAE selected the F-16 in an intense competition in 1998, and in June 2000, the program was officially launched. The UAE has ordered 80 Block 60 F- 16s, which will be delivered during 2004-2006. The first aircraft will roll out later this year and begin extensive flight testing. Engine flight-testing already has begun.

The Block 60 configuration is the most extensive change in the history of the F-16 program. The unique features of the Block 60 version include the APG-80 multimode radar with active electronically scanned antenna, internalized forward-looking infrared navigation and targeting system, advanced cockpit (three large multifunction displays, picture-in-picture, enhanced automation), fiber-optic avionics data bus, commercial off-the-shelf processors, Falcon Edge internal electronic countermeasures system and the 32,000-pound-thrust-class F110-GE-132 engine.

Like other advanced F-16s, the Block 60 can carry conformal fuel tanks, and the two-seat version will feature a dorsal avionics compartment and a fully mechanized rear cockpit.