Lockheed Martin set to upgrade European fighters
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company has recently been awarded a contract for delivery of F-16 modification kits that will significantly upgrade the capability of F-16s used by air forces in several European countries. Total program value, including options, is said to be in the region of $142 million.
According to a statement, the contract is for delivery of 306 modification kits, an option for 39 additional kits, plus spares, support equipment and technical manual changes.
These kits will be used to upgrade F-16s previously modified with the F-16A/B Mid-Life Update (MLU), and operated by the air forces of Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway. Portugal is planning to incorporate this modification on its F-16s as well, but under a separate contract at a later date.
Provisions for this new upgrade, called 'M3', were included in the original F-16 MLU modification, and the upgrade gets its name from the nomenclature of the software portion of the change.
New systems and capabilities include Link 16, a secure, jam-resistant, high-volume, NATO-standard data communications system that increases pilot situation awareness and a joint helmet-mounted cueing system, a new US helmet display for improved situation awareness and employment of high-off-boresight weapons.
There are also said to be enhancements to existing systems including the multimode radar, electronic warfare management system and reconnaissance pods.
The new modernisation kits will be produced and assembled in the United States. Kit installation will be accomplished in depot facilities in each of the respective European countries.
M3 kit deliveries will begin in the second quarter of 2002 and will continue through mid-2007. Operational evaluation testing begins in late 2002, and software release to operational units is scheduled for spring 2004.