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Lockheed unveils new variant of F-16 fighter

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F-16 Falcon fighter. A Lockheed photo

SINGAPORE (BNS): US defence major Lockheed Martin has unveiled a new advanced variant of the F-16 Falcon multi-role fighter -- F-16V, which it says will serve the emerging requirements of its global customers.

The new combat jet, unveiled during the ongoing Singapore Air Show, feature several enhancements including an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, an upgraded mission computer and architecture, and improvements to the cockpit -- all capabilities identified by the US Air Force and several international customers for future improvement, the company said.

With nearly 4,500 F-16s delivered, this is a natural step in the evolution of the world's most successful 4th generation fighter. The Fighting Falcon programme has continually evolved as it began with the F-16 A/B as the lightweight fighter then transitioned to F-16 C/D and Block 60 versions as customers' requirements changed, Lockheed said.

"We believe this F-16V will satisfy our customers' emerging requirements and prepare them to better interoperate with the 5th generation fighters, the F-35 and F-22," said George Standridge, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics' vice president of business development.

The F-16V configuration is an option for new production jets and the upgrades will also be available for previous variants of the fighter.

The "V" designation is derived from Viper, the name fighter pilots have called the F-16 from its beginnings, Lockheed said.

The F-16 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-16 jets.

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