General Dynamics F-16V Viper

Last revised June 15, 2020


The F-16V Block 70 (dubbed the "Viper") is a new version of the F-16 unveiled by Lockheed Martin at the 2012 Singapore Airshow. It features an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, an upgraded mssions computer, the ability to fit conformal fuel tanks, plus cockpit improvements. AESA radar allows the aircraft to broadcast powerful radar signals that are spread out over a broad band of frequencies that makes them harder to detect over background noise. It does not include the F-16 Block 60 features. The F-16V will be available as a new production program, but F-16V features will also be available in upgrade packagea for existing F-16 aircraft. The Viper integrates advanced capabilities as part of an upgrade package to better interoperate with fifth-generation fighters, including the F-35 and the F-22.

The "V" suffix is a company term, not an official USAF designation.

The F-16V fighter jet is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 or bu a General Electric F110-GE-129 turbofan engine. The F100-PW-229 develops a thrust of 29,100lb, whereas the F110-GE-129 generates a thrust of 29,500lb.

The F-16Vís advanced glass cockpit incorporates an upgraded mission computer and state-of-the-art avionics, including color multi-function displays, a large high-resolution centre pedestal display (CPD), helmet-mounted cueing system, and a high-volume, high-speed data bus. The CPD enhances situational awareness of the crew by supporting real-time processing and imaging of flight safety data. The F-16 Viper is also equipped with an upgraded, programmable displays generator, a Link-16 theatre data link, identification friend or foe (IFF) and HF/UHF/VHF radio communications.

The single, high-performance, modular mission computer (MMC) on the F-16V is a replacement of the three original computers. It provides higher computing power to the avionics and weapon systems, while offering improved situational awareness, air-to-air strike performances, accurate targeting, and information capabilities. The gigabit ethernet-based architecture enables the control of electronic warfare displays and avionics systems of the aircraft.

The advanced fighter jet is also fitted with precision GPS navigation and automated ground collision avoidance system (AGCAS), which provides the pilot with alerts of imminent collision with the ground, and controls the aircraft to avoid a collision in case of pilotís unresponsiveness to visual cues.

The F-16V will be able to carry a wide variety of air-to-air missiles, including AIM-9 Sidewinder, Magic II and ASRAAM short-range AAMs, as well as AIM-7, Sky Flash, and AIM-120 medium-range AAMs. High off-bore-sight, infrared AAMs, such as AIM-9X, Python IV, AIM-132 ASRAAM, and IRIS-T are also available. It will also be able to carry AGM-119/AGM-84/AGM-65G anti-ship missiles and AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground tactical missile, as well as Paveway laser-guided bombs, GBU-15 bombs, and wind corrected munitions dispenser weapons.

The F-16Vís AESA radar enables all-weather targeting and offers high-resolution detection and imaging of land-based targets. The phased array radar allows the simultaneous application of air-to-air and air-to-surface modes. The onboard Sniper advanced targeting pod (ATP) gives high air-to-surface and air-to-air targeting capability to the F-16 Viper. It supports the launch of all laser-guided and GPS-guided weapons against multiple fixed and moving targets. The aircraft can be integrated with FLIR/laser system and reconnaissance and navigation pods. The Viper fighter is equipped with upgraded electronic warfare equipment and modern threat warning systems, including jammers, threat warning receivers, electronic countermeasures equipment pods, as well as chaff and infrared flare dispensers.

It is anticipated that the F-16V will complement Fifth Generation fighters such as the F-22 and the F-35. The USAF is reportedly interested in upgrading between 300 and 350 of its F-16s to the F-16V standard.

Lockheed Martin received a $1.85bn contract from the US Government to upgrade 145 Block 20 F-16A/B aircraft for the Republic of China (Taiwan) Air Force in October 2012. The upgrades are based on the F-16 Viper version. The first four retrofitted F-16A/B fighters, upgraded by Taiwanís state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC), were handed over to ROCAF at an airbase in Chiayi county in southwestern Taiwan in October 2018. Taiwan is also interested in acquiring up to 66 new-build F-16V Block 70 fighters. This sale was approved by the Trump administration an August of 2019 and was subsequently cleared by Congress in November. The first two F-16Vs Ė a single-seater and twin-seater Ė are to be delivered by 2023 for initial testing, while the last of the 66 aircraft are expected to be received by 2026.

The US Air Force (USAF) awarded a foreign military sales (FMS) contract to Lockheed Martin for the upgrade of 134 F-16 aircraft to the F-16V configuration in November 2016.

Lockheed Martin received a $1.12bn contract from the US Government for the development of 16 F-16V Block 70 aircraft for the Royal Bahraini Air Force in June 2018.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) approved the $1.67bn sale of eight F-16 Viper fighter jets, weapons and training equipment to Bulgaria under the FMS programme.

In 2015 it was announced that Lockheed Martin will upgrade a total of 134 South Korea's KF-16 fighters to the F-16V standard.

Slovakia announced on 11 July 2018 that it intends to purchase 14 F-16V Block 70/72 aircraft

Sources:



  • General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon Variants, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Dynamics_F-16_Fighting_Falcon_variants#F-16V

  • F-16V (Viper) Fighting Falcon Multi-Role Fighter, https://www.airforce-technology.com/projects/f-16v-viper-fighting-falcon-multi-role-fighter/