The Kingdom of Bahrain is planning to launch a major programme to modernise its Lockheed Martin F-16s and acquire an additional batch in an advanced V-model configuration.
Facing increased operational demand due to its involvement in the coalition campaign against Islamic State militants in the Middle East, the Royal Bahraini Air Force is looking to boost capabilities, says Rick Groesch, regional vice-president, Middle East for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.
“They are thinking about upgrading their airplanes. We have been in discussion for a while,” Groesch told Flightglobal during the Bahrain International Airshow. Modernising Bahrain’s in-service fleet to the F-16V standard would include the integration of an active electronically-scanned array sensor, already identified as Northrop Grumman’s scalable agile beam radar. With the US government, the progamme would also add precision-guided weapons, such as from Boeing’s joint direct attack munition series, and Lockheed’s Sniper targeting pod.
In parallel with the upgrade, the service could also acquire “17 or 18” new-build F-16Vs, Groesch says. These would differ through the installation of conformal fuel tanks, which he notes would enable the assets to operate with more weapons beneath the wing, in place of 370gal fuel tanks.
Confirming Bahrain has asked for pricing, availability and schedule data about a potential deal via the Foreign Military Sales framework, Groesch says: “In early February, we will start to discuss the request with the US government. Bahrain has seen the need to get this going, due to the operational tempo now.”
Groesch says the lead aircraft involved in an upgrade would undergo modification and flight test in Bahrain with Lockheed, and subsequent examples would receive the enhancements with the assistance of the nation’s air force. Flightglobal’s Fleets Analyser database records the Royal Bahraini Air Force’s inventory as including 16 F-16Cs and four D-model trainers, after a single-seat example was destroyed in a non-fatal accident in Saudi Arabia. If concluded, the deal with Bahrain would enable Lockheed to extend production of the F-16 beyond 2017.
“We’re talking to several other customers at the moment,” about possible upgrades or purchases says Groesch, who identifies Jordan as having a near-term requirement to modernise its inventory. Two years ago, details emerged of a possible deal to supply the UAE with additional F-16s in an upgraded Block 60 configuration, along with a modernisation activity for its current examples. A deal has yet to be signed, but Groesch confirms: “We’re still talking to them about that.”Separately, Bahrain has yet to confirm an intention to replace its remaining 12 Northrop F-5E/Fs. With the Eurofighter Typhoon considered a leading contender for such a requirement, campaign lead BAE Systems exhibited a fullscale replica and had a simulator on show at the 21-23 January event, staged at Sakhir air base.
Original article: Here
This mockup of the F-16V cockpit shows the large center pedestal display (CPD) that is being provided by Elbit Systems of America.
Elbit Systems of America provided more detail on the center pedestal display (CPD) that it is providing to Lockheed Martin for the F-16V upgrade. Along with a new AESA radar, the CPD is a key element of the upgrade, which is proceeding for 150 Taiwanese F-16A/Bs, while the U.S. Air Force struggles to fund the improvements for its own fleet.
The CPD replaces old electro-mechanical instruments, improving the presentation of data and reducing pilot workload, according to Elbit. It also provides a high-resolution display for sensor imagery and for tactical situational awareness, and provides emergency backup to flight instruments if the air data computer should fail. Elbit embedded the air data module into the CPD, allowing it to connect with the existing infrastructure of the F-16. (ainonline.com)
Northrop Grumman APG-83 radar
Unlike traditional mechanically scanned radars, SABR’s electronic scanning eliminates the need for moving parts. The single, consolidated line-replaceable unit contains the receiver, exciter, and process functions. Solid-state electronics foster three- to five-times greater reliability versus current fire-control radar systems. Electronically scanned beams accelerate area searches, resulting in earlier and longer range target detections and tracking. This also ensures rapid target updates and enables interleaved mode operations for greater mission effectiveness, situational awareness, and survivability.
SABR utilizes a larger-area, high-definition, synthetic aperture radar capability named “BIG SAR.” This alternative mode provides pilots with detailed target areas and digital map displays that can be precisely tailored. This, too, enables greater situational awareness, as well as more flexibility and quicker all-weather targeting.