The F-16 Block 70/72, often known as the F-16V, is a modernized version of the renowned F-16 multirole fighter. This modernized variant, developed by Lockheed Martin, contains cutting-edge technologies and modifications to preserve its function as a versatile and capable fighter plane.
The Block 70/72 still features the Improved Performance Engines, either the F110-GE-129 for the Block 70 or the F100-PW-229 for the Block 72 as was in the former Block 50/52 version. Both engines are rated at 29,000lbs of thrust (129kN). In this version all developments done to the F-16 over the past 25 years have been incorporated.
Lockheed first proposed this version of the F-16 back in 2012. The first customer was Taiwan with an upgrade package for its block 20 airframes. Although new-built was also an option it took some time before this came to light with some customers. It was not untill 2017 that the first customer Bahrain ordered some new examples of the venerable fighter. Since then Greece, South Korea, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Morocco, Jordan and Turkey have placed orders, either for upgrading older blocks to this new standard, or new-built jets.
Structure & Avionics
The Block 70/72 features advanced avionics, a proven Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a modernized cockpit with new safety features, advanced weapons, conformal fuel tanks, an improved performance engine, and an industry-leading extended structural service life of 12,000 hours.
The Block 70/72 carries the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam AESA radar which delivers greater situational awareness, flexibility and quicker all-weather targeting. The APG-83 provides pilots with unprecedented target area detail and digital map displays that can be tailored with slew and zoom features. It's capabilities are compairable with the radar used i the 5th generation F-35. Furthermore it enables greater detection and tracking ranges, multiple target track (20-plus target tracks), high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) maps for all-environment precision strike, interleaved air-to-air and air-to-surface mode operations for improved situational awareness, operational effectiveness and survivability and robust electronic protection for operations in dense radio frequency (RF) environments. The APG-83 also provides greater overall system reliability and availability, three to five times that of legacy radars.
Besides this new important asset it also features a new Center Pedestal Display which gives pilots with important tactical imagery on a high-resolution 6″x 8″ screen. The high-resolution display enables pilots to fully utilize AESA and targeting pod data. The new CPD enables color-moving maps, larger and easier-to-manage air-to-air Situation Displays, zoom functionality with the ability to switch information among displays, and a digital display of Flight Instrument Data.
Other features include a modernized mission computer, an Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System, a Martin-Baker US18E Ejection Seat, an Infrared Search and Track (IRST) system enabling the F-16 to detect and track airborne targets with unprecedented accuracy, enhancing situational awareness and target engagement.
Deliveries of the Block 70/72 began in 2019 with the first upgrade kits delivered to the Republic of China. The first new-built Block 70 for Bahrain flew in January of 2023.
Production of the upgrade kits started in 2019 with deliveries to the Republic of China, South Korea and Greece respectivally. The first new-built Block 70 flew in January of 2023 with this airframe going to Bahrain. In late 2023 the first aircraft for the Republic of Slovakia (a new F-16 user) was also presented to the public. A total of over 450 upgrade kits were ordered by Bahrain, Taiwan, Morocco, Greece, Turkey and South Korea up untill the end of 2023 with 153 new-builts on the order list for Bahrain, Slowakia, Burlgaria, Taiwan and Jordan.
Specifications (standard Block 70/72)
Engine: One Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229EEP turbofan, rated at 17,800 lb.s.t. dry and 29,160 lb.s.t. with afterburning or one General Electric F110-GE-129 turbofan, rated at 17,155 lb.s.t. dry and 29,500 lb.s.t. with afterburning.
Performance: Maximum short-endurance speed: Mach 2.05 (1353 mph) at 40,000 feet. Maximum sustained speed Mach 1.89 (1247 mph) at 40,000 feet. Tactical radius (hi-lo-hi interdiction on internal fuel with six 500-lb bombs) 360 miles. Maximum ferry range 2450 miles with maximum external fuel (excluding 600gal. tanks or CFT's) .
Dimensions: wingspan 31 feet 0 inches, length 49 feet 3 inches, height 16 feet 7 inches, wing area 300 square feet.
Weights: 20,300 pounds empty, 27,400 pounds normal loaded (air-to-air mission), 48,000 pounds maximum takeoff.