On Apr. 12, 2017 Lockheed Martin announced that the U.S. Air Force (USAF) has authorized the extend of the designed service life of the F-16 Block 42-52 aircraft to 12,000 Equivalent Flight Hours.
This is 4,000 more hours added to the aircraft’s original design service life of 8,000 hours.
The Air Force and Lockheed Martin also reduced projected service life costs for the Block 40-52 fleet, paving the way for safe, cost-effective F-16 flight operations decades into the future.
“This accomplishment is the result of more than seven years of test, development, design, analysis and partnership between the U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin,” explained Susan Ouzts, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 program. “Combined with F-16 avionics modernization programs like the F-16V, SLEP modifications demonstrate that the Fighting Falcon remains a highly capable and affordable 4th Generation option for the U.S. Air Force and international F-16 customers.”
Validation of the extended flight hour limit directly supports the SLEP goal of extending the service life of up to 300 F-16C/D Block 40-52 aircraft. In fact USAF F-16C/D fleet can safely and effectively augment the current fighter force structure as U.S. and allied combat air fleets recapitalize with F-35 Lightning IIs by means of SLEP and related avionics upgrades.
Military Type Certificate (MTC) will be submitted to the Air Force’s Technical Airworthiness Authority in the coming months and will be requested in the second phase, or Part II, of the F-16 SLEP airworthiness process. This additional step is aimed to validate further extending the F-16’s operational life based on final service life analysis from extended durability testing.
According to Lockheed Martin, the F-16 continues to prove itself as the world’s most successful, combat-proven multi-role fighter aircraft, having served with 28 customers around the world. Actually the F-16V, the latest F-16 avionics upgrade configuration, includes numerous enhancements designed to keep the F-16 at the forefront of international security, while the F-16 Block 70/72, the newest and most advanced F-16 production configuration, combines capability and structural upgrades into the most advanced F-16 production aircraft ever offered.
Photo credit: Senior Master Sgt. John P. Rohrer / U.S. Air National Guard and Senior Airman Chris Drzazgowski / U.S. Air Force
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com
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