March 15, 2001 (by Lieven Dewitte) - On March 15, Italy signed an agreement for the lease of 34 F-16s from the U.S. Air Force inventory and a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LoA) for aircraft support and services.
The F-16s will replace the Tornado Air Defense Version aircraft currently leased from the United Kingdom and the F-104s, both operated in the air defense role. The first F-16s will be delivered in mid-2003.
The five-year lease is renewable for a second five-year period. The LoA
and lease value is approximately $777 million over 10 years.
Lockheed Martin is expected to receive a contract through the U.S. government for spares, technical support and training. Lockheed Martin will manage the spares requisitioning and distribution at the Italian bases. The support contract, worth about $313 million over 10 years, is expected to be issued by the end of this year.
The Italian Air Force will receive 30 single-seat F-16A aircraft in the block 15
Air Defense Fighter (ADF
) configuration and four two-seat F-16B aircraft in the block 10
Operational Capabilities Upgrade configuration. These aircraft have common software and cockpits, and the F-16Bs will be used as training aircraft.
The ADF configuration has AIM-120
Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM
) radar missile capability, a night identification light, a long-range high-frequency radio, an electronic interrogator/transponder and other features tailored to the air defense role.
The F-16 aircraft are currently in storage at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center in Tucson, Ariz. Before delivery to the Italian Air Force, all of the flying aircraft will be refurbished and brought up to date with all required inspections and changes. At the same time, the aircraft will receive the Falcon UP structural upgrade. The F100-PW-200 engines will be upgraded to the F-100-PW-220E configuration to improve operability, reliability, maintainability, durability, safety, and operation and support costs.
will be the 21st country to operate the F-16 Fighting Falcon. They are the sixth country to acquire F-16s from the USAF inventory and are the second country to use the lease approach.