December 11, 2003 (by Loader) - The first eight of the F-16 E/F block 60 fighter jets custom developed for the Emirates will be delivered to the Gulf country next year. The Emirates signed a contract with the defense giant in 2000 to acquire 80 F-16s with particular requirements.
The deal with Lockheed cost the Emirates US$6.4 billion, plus more than US$1 billion it will pay to the U.S. government for ammunition to support the fighter.
According to Del Spann, deputy program director of the F-16 block 60
, three of the aircraft will be turned over to the Emirates in April at the Lockheed Martins headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, and five will be brought to the Emirates by the end of next year. While developed to the Emirates' requirements, the plane can be sold to other countries.
The plane's major innovations include structural, avionics and propulsion enhancements that make it practically an all-new version of the Fighting Falcon, according to a press statement from Lockheed Martin. The last designation change, the F-16C/D, was introduced with the block 25
version in 1984.
resembles earlier F-16 aircraft in appearance only. Internally, the Block 60 has an all-new cockpit that features all-digital instruments and three 5x7-inch color displays. Its highlights are a revolutionary Electronic Warfare (EW) system, the new APG-80 Agile Beam Radar (ABR), and a new Integrated FLIR
Targeting System (IFTS
), provided by Northrop Grumman. This enables the aircraft to increase the scope of its search with greater precision.
The Block 60 is powered by a General Electric GE
-132 engine and is said to be more advanced than the F-16I Soufa, which will be delivered to Israel
soon. The Soufa is an F-16 block 50
The first Block 60 to come out of the production line took off for the first time on Saturday in Fort Worth in its test flight.