June 25, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The U.S. Air Force recently exercised a contract option associated with Phase III of the F-16 Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP) by awarding Lockheed Martin $26.6 million for retrofit kits to modify 22 Block 40/42 aircraft.
With follow-on options to provide kits for nearly 400 Block 40/42 F-16s in the Air Force fleet, Phase III has a potential total contract value of $396 million.
The F-16 CCIP
is designed to provide the latest capabilities to approximately 650 Block 40/42/50/52 F-16s operated by the active USAF and Air National Guard. The resulting configuration provides a high degree of commonality in hardware and software, with attendant benefits in logistics support costs, training, operational flexibility and future upgrades. The upgrades also provide a high degree of commonality with new production F-16s for international customers and with the F-16 Mid-Life Update being performed on 400 F-16A/Bs operated by five European NATO
The program is divided into phases:
- Phase I and IA for the initial systems to Block 50/52 aircraft: new core computers and color cockpit modifications / advanced interrogator/transponder and ability to employ the Sniper XR advanced FLIR targeting pod.
- Phase II for the full modification to Block 50/52 aircraft: NATO-standard Link 16 data link, the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System and an electronic horizontal situation indicator. The Block 50/52 aircraft which received the modifications in the earlier phases will go back through the depot mod line at Ogden to receive the additional changes.
- Phase III for the full modification to Block 40/42 aircraft . They will receive the entire modification all at one time, beginning in 2005.
The contract is part of a major push to upgrade about 650 Fighting Falcons used by the Air Force and Air National Guard. Only one new plane is scheduled for delivery to the Air Force, so it is important to keep these airplanes modern.
Although much of the modification kit is produced by other companies, Lockheed designed and integrated the systems for use with the F-16 and packages the kits for delivery. The Air Force installs the systems at Hill Air Force Base in Roy, Utah.
When upgraded, the Air Force planes will be on a par with newer F-16s being produced for Israel
as well as older, previously upgraded models used by several European nations.
More than 4,000 Fighting Falcons have been delivered to the Air Force and other customers since 1979, and they make up about 55 percent of the Air Force's fleet of fighter planes.
Production is expected to continue beyond 2010 and the Air Force has said the planes will remain in service beyond 2030.