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Lockheed gets contract to upgrade Taiwan's F-16s

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The F-16 Falcon fighter. A Lockheed photo

FORT WORTH (BNS): US defence major Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract worth $1.85 billion by the US Government to begin upgrading the 145 Block 20 F-16A/B combat jets of the Taiwanese Air Force.

The retrofit programme will include the addition of an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, embedded global positioning, as well as upgrades to the electronic warfare and other avionics systems of Taiwan's F-16s, the company announced on October 1.

The US Government, in September 2011, had decided to upgrade Taiwan's existing fleet of F-16 fighter jets which were bought from Washington in the 1990s.

The Pentagon had put the total value of the multi-part deal at $5.85 billion that will include equipment, parts, training and logistical support.

Lockheed Martin is the major contractor in the retrofit programme which would include equipping the combat jets with missiles and GPS laser-guided bombs among others, according to the Pentagon's Defence Security Cooperation Agency.

The Taiwanese jets would be upgraded to the advanced F-16V (Viper) configuration.

"Lockheed Martin looks forward to a continued partnership with the Republic of China in upgrading their F-16s," said Jeff Babione, vice president and general manager of the F-16/F-22 Integrated Fighter Group.

"Based on elements of the F-16V configuration, Taiwan's air force will receive the most advanced F-16 upgrades. This programme reinforces the strong value proposition associated with commonality between the USAF F-16 programme and the worldwide F-16 user community," the official said.

The company had unveiled the F-16V (Viper) configuration of the multi-role fighter jet during the Singapore Air Show in February 2012.

The new variant, featuring several enhancements including the AESA radar, upgraded mission computer and architecture, and improvements to the cockpit, would satisfy the customers' emerging requirements and prepare them to better interoperate with the 5th generation fighters, the F-35 and F-22, the company had said.

The F-16 fighter has made its way into the defence forces of 26 countries. The most recent deal Lockheed has bagged for the fighter is from Iraq which is buying 18 F-16s.


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F-16  Taiwan  Lockheed  US  
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