New F-16V ‘Viper’ Makes First Flight

Caption: Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-16V, the latest and most advanced F-16 on the market on Oct. 16, 2015, completed its maiden flight. (Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin)Caption: Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-16V, the latest and most advanced F-16 on the market on Oct. 16, 2015, completed its maiden flight. (Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin Corp.’s newest type of F-16 fighter jet, known as the F-16V “Viper,” recently completed its maiden flight, the company announced.

The Oct. 16 flight in Fort Worth, Texas, marked the first time the venerable fourth-generation fighter flew with an advanced radar like those found on the fifth-generation fighters F-22 and F-35, according to a press release this week from Lockheed.

The F-16V includes an APG-83 active electronically scanned array scalable agile beam radar made by Northrop Grumman Corp. The company also makes so-called active electronically scanned array radars for the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The new radar steers beams electronically — without moving parts — and redirects them from one location to another, according to the Government Accountability Office. Unlike a passive version, the radar spreads signals over multiple radio frequencies, making them difficult to detect and jam, and allowing the aircraft employing the technology to remain stealthy.

The APG-83 “fire control radar provides 5th Generation air-to-air and air-to-ground radar capability,” Lockheed said in the release. It “will deliver a quantum leap in capability for the venerable F-16.”

The F-16V advanced avionics configuration also includes a new cockpit center pedestal display, a modernized mission computer and a high-capacity Ethernet data bus, according to Lockheed.

Yet the upgrades aren’t slated to hit the U.S. fleet of more than 1,000 F-16s. The Air Force last year canceled a plan to upgrade some 340 of the single-engine fighters with such enhancements due to budget limitations and instead decided to fund other programs, including the F-35.

So Taiwan is set to become the first country to begin flying the F-16V Viper.

Lockheed, the world’s largest defense contractor, faces competition from the British defense giant, BAE Systems Plc, in the international market to upgrade many of the 3,000 F-16s now flying in foreign armed forces.

Of those, roughly 1,000 are more than 15 years old — making them prime candidates for enhancements to avoid obsolescence. While the F-16 won’t ever compete in the skies with newer jets like the F-22 or F-35, upgrading fourth-generation aircraft is far cheaper than buying fifth-generation fighters.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Lance

    No they can kick a F-35s butt USAF pilots proved that.

    • NathanS

      A F-16 wouldn’t even know an F-35 was in the area until the missiles started coming in. And if your strategy is to fly straight towards the onslaught of missiles and force the merge, where you may have an advantage, then it’s not a very good one. Even if you survive, your wing-men would not, and you’d be easy pickings as soon as you entered into a turning game.

      • oblatt24

        sure it would just look for the maintenance hanger, hard to miss.

      • retired462

        If we upgrade the F-16’s, maybe we can cut back on the number of the Junk Strike Fighter!

        • thebluesguy

          When the Junk Strike Fighter as you call it start kicking Russian and Chinese butts you will change your tune. USA does not produce junk. Leave that to the Chinese and Russians.

      • thebluesguy

        There is only one known instance where an F16 jock got a guns solution on an F-22. The Raptor pilot was either over confident or the F-16 jock is an absolute gun.No doubt the Raptor pilot had some explaining to do.

      • d kellogg

        “onslaught of missiles” ?
        Seriously? These are F-35s, NOT Su-27 Flanker derivatives.
        And onslaught from an F-35 is, what, 4 missiles tops?

        Besides, if an F-35 and an F-16 are squaring off for whatever sh*t hit the fan reason across the globe, those F-16s could well deploying identical model AIM-9s and AIM-120s as the F-35, and a good suite of western ECM systems; question then is, whose ECM guys are on their game. All the low observable stealth in the world doesn’t mean squat if your missiles aren’t or can’t get to their targets.

    • William bray

      Man your silly… the apg-63 radar of current 16s wouldent even detect it until an am-120c engaged it tracking radar 5 miles out… and that’s if it’s not on track on jam mode. If your gona talk the bs atleast know what your talking about lol.

  • racindavid

    The F-16 is STILL one of the best turn and burn dogfighters ever made. In a visual range dogfight there is almost nothing that can be it. now add better avionics and radar and you have a very potent weapon…

    • derf

      The only question is how much dogfighting will matter in the future. They’ve said it before, but missiles and targeting systems really are advancing quickly, and are far more capable that those of decades past.

      If BVR is the future, then little will matter beyond the ability to target the enemy first, and to carry more missiles.

    • tiger

      That is nice. But there is no dogfighting anyplace. In 14 years of war, zero air to air action. the threat is guys in Toyotas. Not Su-33’s….

      • Capt Obvious

        Threats change tiger

        • That Guy

          Thanks Capt Obvious ;P

  • Dave

    We have a monster military industrial complex machine that needs to be dismantled. The only way for this monster to keep gobbling up 600 billion tax payer dollars EVERY year is by creating the threat, the public knows this tactic well. DO NOT submit to anymore US false flag fear on US soil. The next one will probably be nuclear, enough to scare the ship out of allocating a trillion in defense spending yearly. It will all be bullship, false flag and 100% waste of good tax payer money that needs to go to infrastructure.

  • Lars

    If we keep spending we will have to pay more taxws instead of borrowing more.

    • @misterjoecool

      I agree. I think the answer is to stop spending so much on social programs. Modest cuts in S.S. and Medicare would go along way in helping our spending problem.

      • blight_

        Wow, feels like the Soviet Union all over again. Let’s spend 25% of the GDP on weapons programs, and pursue multiple redundant rocket programs to soak up that GDP…

  • Nadnerbus

    So, this is a product they need for the foreign market to continue to make money. And they managed to complete the program and get it to market without hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns. Huh.

    I know the analogy is not that simple, but man. The military needs to hold the contractor’s feet to the fire. They seem to be able to complete projects just fine when it is on their dime.

    • GreensboroVet

      Bro. it’s not just the contractors. The military likes to keep adding stuff on to a a design which results in the contractors having to redesign things to accommodate the new changes.

      • d kellogg

        It’s a fallacy believing “but but but, it’s THE MILITARY that keeps wanting stuff added.

        No. It’s the contractor shills hawking their products in DC and elsewhere, trumping up unproven capabilities they could add “for a few/several million $$$ more and delaying the contract by several years,…just in time for senior procurement folk to pick up those lush advisory jobs after retiring from the DoD.
        90% of the DoD brass aren’t technologically smart enough on their own to figure out hardware capabilities, not without an over abundance of advisors to tell them in the first place. Thus the shill cycle continues.
        But, by all means, go to Washington or any number of defense expos, watch the defense contractor sales pitches, then tell me it doesn’t work the way I said here.

      • blight_asdf

        Then it points to a lack of common sense by all involved. One for attempting to build a car while it moves, the other for allowing it to happen. Good grief.

  • BOOM

    Regarding F-35….the public are IDIOTS! Read the press and make your opinions, but the F-35 is a PLATFORM, not just a fighter.

    This F-35 platform will be positioned to add on all of the advanced technology that is not yet available.

    Just like many of the first makes of our fighters there as A, B, C, D, E editions.

    The F-35 may lose in a dog fight today against an F-16, but 5, 10, 20 years from now it will have all of the new technology added to the 5th generation PLATFORM.

    Think longer term this is a strategic play that the US and allies will have thousands of F-35s blowing away any competition that it will come against.

    Many people don’t understand this and just post what they read on yahoo.

    BOOM

    • Allen Hill

      The up-gradable platform concept is fine but planes that can serve multiple purposes will never be as good as the ones that are designed to do a specific job. Planes are not trucks. There are big differences in planes designed to do specific purposes. That said, a plane can be modified to serve other purposes which is sometimes a very worth while thing to do. For instance, the F-35 on its best day will never come close to the F-22 as an air superiority fighter because when hanging the weapons on it make is not longer stealth which is the F-22’s greatest advantage.
      However, you could mount smart bombs and air to ground missiles on a F-22 and that could be made effective. It is however, a poor use of such an expensive plane. The air force does not want to admit it but the A-10 is still the best attack plane in the world but its weapon control systems should be modified by using the latest technology out there like that of the latest F18’s. When it performs so well it will always make the F-35 look bad and way to expensive. There are few if any ground targets worth risking F-22’s or F-35’s to attack. We have seldom gone wrong when we have up-graded existing aircraft. That is not the track record with new aircraft.

      • sw614

        The A-10 is the premier CAS act, not overall attack. The F-22, -35, and even -15E and SuperBugs can attack ground targets the A-10 cannot touch.

        The USAF has said time and again they consider the A-10 the gold standard of CAS.

        Every acft we have was new once. The F-16 took all sorts of grief since it could not carry radar guided missiles or any ground attack weapons other than dumb bombs.

        The F-15 was criticized for lack of ground attack capability.

        We are good at upgrading existing acft as we already went through the growing pains with those acft.

        • EdBurman

          Agreed! The first F18’s couldn’t land safely on aircraft carriers because the front landing gear kept getting damaged or collapsing altogether on hitting the wire, and look how great the Hornet turned out to be once the bugs were ironed out.

    • Adam Hill

      It is irresponsible to hang the security of our nation on a dream that way into the future and give up the attainable goals that are within our reach today. Look what happened to the replacement bombers to replace the B-52’s. First it was the B-58. A good plane but too expensive to operate and too easy to shoot down because of modern radar and missile technology. Closely following the B-58 was the ultra fast supersonic bombers that never got beyond the testing stage due to the technology to shoot them down was making that bomber outdated. Then we have the B-1 and B-2 swing wing bombers but so expensive we cut back severely on deploying them. Then the incredible stealth bomber but also too expensive in the numbers wanted. Now the air force has spent over seven billion dollars on preliminary work for a B-52 when we already have an excellent bomber but cannot afford to deploy it in the numbers we would like due to costs.

      • sw614

        Um, some of your post makes no sense.

        The B-1 is a swing wing acft, the B-2 is not. Carter cancelled the B-1 in favor of cruise missiles. Reagan brought it back with an intended purchase of 100 acft which was the amount bought.

        The B-2 was pricey. And as the different administrations cut production, costs went up even more. The cuts were part of the peace dividend and the acft being considered a Cold War weapon.

        The LSR-B will replace both the B-52 and B-1.

      • wpnexp

        The B-52 survived because it never had to face anything worse than the SA-2, and it got creamed pretty bad by that flying telephone pole. The B-70 would have been an awesome bomber if modernized like the B-52 and B-1B have been over the years. The only likely problem with the B-70 would be the fatigue on the airframe. It would be interesting what the B-1B would be like if we built it new today, possibly reducing large amounts of weight by incorporating new technology for the swing wing. Would love to see what the B-1B could do with the F-135 or F-119 engine too. Likewise, we can only imagine what the B-2 coming fresh off the production line would be capable of today.

    • oblatt23

      LOL Platform is just Lockheed marketing talk for we know its shiit but if you pay us billions more we might be able to fix it.

    • Navyjag907

      Agree. The dogfighters will be splashed before they ever get close to the F-35. It´s just easier for the critics to keep repeating the same stuff over and over again adding nothing to the discussion.

    • Mateo

      Would you not agree that it makes sense, if this is the case, to limit the number of F-35s built, to say, 200, to see what they can do, instead of wholesale replacement of our fighter fleet with an, um, underperforming test platform F-35?

  • this guy

    what I really want to see is the F-14s brought back to life.

    • Mitch S.

      The Iranians will now have the funds to make your wish come true!

    • Mastro

      Good luck- they were shredded - literally.

      Old tech- the maintenence crews don’t miss them.

    • GreensboroVet

      F-14 Advanced Super TomCat!!!!!!!

  • guest

    all these new upgrades and we are not going to fly them????? guess thats par for the course lately. hope whomever we sell them to remain our allies.

    • Bill M

      That’s a problem with Taiwan. China is going to take over sooner or later and we will be in no position to stop them. Then these new upgraded F-16V’s will be flying against our forces. It’s all about the money and as a famous communist dictator once said, the capitalist will sell us the rope that we will use to hang them with. No leadership in America and no long term strategy.

  • BlackOwl18E

    Looks like the F-16V is Lockheed Martin’s attempt at a back up. The F-35 is program is finally dying. It’s death is going to be a slow agonizing process, but it’s finally happening and since Obama didn’t sign the NDAA, it’s death pretty much assured.

    The program toppled the conservative government of Canada, causing the Canadians to vote in their liberal party that ran on a platform that they’d make Canada leave the F-35 program. They won by a landslide.

    John McCain just called a major reduction in the amount the US armed forces planned to buy from 2,443. His exact quote: “We’re going to have to reduce the buy,” he said. “The number they are now quoting — there’s just not going to be that many.”

    That was followed by similar written comments from Adm. John Richardson, who, during his hearing to be named Chief Naval Officer, wrote that he would work to “re-validate the appropriate number of aircraft the Navy requires.”

    Looks like with the loss of the 61 Canadian air frames is going to come the loss of many US Navy air frames (or the death of the F-35C entirely), followed by losses in other variants. This is classic death spiral protocol, gentlemen.

    • blight_asdfljk

      Wonder if they’ll make a smaller aircraft (Revised Hornet) or just replace them 1:1 with Super Hornets, or with JSF-B’s?

    • wpnexp

      Not likely, Norway is even looking at buying more. Would be great to get a real budget passed by this President, and we would be buying lots more. John McCain needs to leave soon, as he is one of the biggest problems for this country besides the Democrats.

  • BlackOwl18E

    Looks like the F-16V is Lockheed Martin’s attempt at a back up. The F-35 is program is finally dying. It’s death is going to be a slow agonizing process, but it’s finally happening and since Obama didn’t sign the NDAA, it’s death is pretty much assured.

    The F-35 program toppled the conservative government of Canada. The liberal party ran on the platform that they’d pull Canada from the F-35 program and they won by a landslide on Monday so Canada’s out.

    John McCain just called a major reduction in the amount the US armed forces planned to buy from 2,443. His exact quote: “We’re going to have to reduce the buy,” he said. “The number they are now quoting — there’s just not going to be that many.”

    That was followed by similar written comments from Adm. John Richardson, who, during his hearing to be named Chief Naval Officer, wrote that he would work to “re-validate the appropriate number of aircraft the Navy requires.”

    Looks like with the loss of the 61 Canadian air frames is going to come the loss of many US Navy air frames (or the death of the F-35C entirely), followed by losses in other variants. This is classic death spiral protocol, gentlemen.

  • jim

    The Israeli air force is going to fly the F-35 there not stupid.

    • oblatt23

      Like the Japanese and Koreans they just want access to some of the electronics tech. No Israeli wants to fly the F-35 into combat.

    • tiger

      They are not oil rich either…. pricey bird with no track record.

    • BlackOwl18E

      Thank you for saying that Israel is not stupid when it comes to fighter jets! Did you know that they actually knew about the F-35 long before our other allies did? Guess what they did? They asked for the Silent Eagle and US refused to sell it to them! We would only sell them the F-35. I agree, Israel was smart indeed when it came to fighter jets, but we are forcing them to buy the F-35.

      Source: http://defence.pk/threads/usa-refused-israel-requ…

    • Wulf145

      But 90% of the missions they fly are against Forces without any AA capability.

  • toko bunga bandung

    configuration also includes a new cockpit center pedestal display, the fighter jet incredible awesome, i don’t believe the asian country which flight it first

  • Frank

    All these posts above that complain about the expenditures of our defense forces should remember, they keep us free, those billions protect your families’ lives. How do the billions we spend 1) educating those who don’t want to /will not be educated 2) Welfare checks, food stamps, for those who spend it on drugs/alcohol, & don’t want to work 3) to help families with children who don’t have enough to eat ( poor) but their parents, in control of the money given spend it on ANYTHING but food for their children. 3) helping other countries ( buying friends), 4)saving all kinds of animals from extinction ( or so say those who will profit from saving them ) 5) saving the environment, to the ridiculous extreme, that we do for those animals, & the environment, what we don’t do for ourselves. I guess, in my opinion, those billions spent for defense, so we don’t have to live like those animals overseas, is VERY WELL spent.

    • tiger

      Try eating a F-35. Not very tasty. And as for the other tired talking points? Frank we need guns & butter. At a debt of $19 trillion and growing, the toys take a lower priority. Till ISIS learns to fly Backfires, the F-16V is lower a need than fixing I-95 or paying the gas bill.

    • Dfens

      Welfare for the rich jerks who own or run defense contractor companies is great but welfare for the poor is bad? I’d rather buy meth for a poor person that put one more dollar in the bank account of the billionaire who runs Lockheed.

    • Mastro

      We could have defended the US very well with upgraded F15’s and 16’s. The defense industry is too powerful for our own good.

    • Vitor

      If your freedom depends on given hundred of billions to a corrupt system, you are not really free. Nevermind all the blowback and unintended consequences of shit done overseas that have very little to do with protecting the american territory.

    • blight_asdf

      “All these posts above that complain about the expenditures of our defense forces should remember, they keep us free, those billions protect your families’ lives.”

      ~Soviet Five Year Plan Memorandum justifying 25% defense spending

  • ekim nick

    5 - 10 15 years out, over-horizon technology will not matter. We will be fighting in their back-yard, losing 100’s of planes that cannot be replaced - China makes 4 integral parts for F35.. What we are going to nuke them, when we start losing air-superiority, thereby the war?

  • @VitoAndMe

    It is a blind alley to think of Gov’t spending in the same context as your household budget. Gov’t can always get as much cash as it wants…one way or another. Small minded politicians make that mistake constantly. The best advice is to “follow the money.” Track the money as it circulates back into the Gov’t treasury.

  • تحميل تيوب ميت

    The beast has flown! So interested of these falcons when it cracks the skull of its victim. It is a Real BEAST

  • JDL

    The only problem I see with upgrading this superb aircraft is this: The F-16 is and still can out maneuver almost any other aircraft in the world during a dogfight. My question is how many times in the future do we really see our pilots engaging in air to air combat? The F-16 is ok for air to ground, but can not stand up the the F-35 in that regard.

  • Charles Pierce

    The F-35 is no better than the F-16 except in the area of stealth, it loses that when it carries the same bomb load as the F-16. The F/A18 E/F/G is a better aircraft than both, it is generation 4.5 and still has room to grow. Cost of the F-16 and the F/A-18 is about 1/2 of the F-35. From a cost stand point only, the generation 4.5 are better aircraft.

  • Vitor

    The F-35 is a bad to mediocre plane when it comes to what it can physically do. The defenders will say it has great electronics and sensors, that those things can be installed in any plane.

    The only thing that the F-35 has going on is stealth, which is a great thing but not a magical formula to win everytime. specially considering that its stealthness is not top of the line. One can’t even compare to the F-22 that cruises at 1.6 mach while the 35 is subsonic and not very agile. The Su-35 just needs to update their radar to an AESA one and would be a more formidable plane than the F-35.

    • Mastro

      Yeah- but the Su-35 reflects radar like a barn door. Funny- if they had a modern Mig-29- low vis figher- the F35 might be in more trouble. But an F35 can get an AMRAAM off at a Su-35 before the Russian can see the F35- mediocre stealth or not.

  • Big-D

    looks like Lockmark is hedging their junk strike fighter bet. They realize the writing is on the wall and it’s only a matter of time before the F-35 is finally cancelled and selling upgraded F-16V is a sure way to keep $ flowing in, the Taiwan air force will goggle these F-16Vs up since they would be perfectly suited for their defense. I’m sure the Israel would be interested too.

  • Jeff Steinbock

    The F-35 is designed to be a command and control platform as well as a fighter/attack aircraft. Guys….if you are fighting an adversary like China/Russia (USSR) and you come into a merge (dogfight) situation, then something has gone wrong. The cold-war air superiority model was to defeat the USSR from standoff range. That is why NATO developed IFF to identify our planes from the enemy planes beyond the visual range. The F-35 strategy is to defeat the enemy at standoff range beyond their engagement envelope. It’s prime trait is for them to work collaboratively with each other, AWACS/E-2, the Naval fleet, etc. as a command-and-control node so weapons can be delivered in a non-wasteful manner. If you cannot see the enemy….you cannot engage them. This is an Ancient Art of War friends and will always be a constant in warfare… Oh by-the-way…it helps if they cannot see you… (stealth anyone?)

    • blight_

      “The F-35 is designed to be a command and control platform”

      That’s part of the spin attached to justify the increasing costs of the F-35 platforms. First it was a common platform that could execute three distinct flight profiles (in the JAST days). Then it morphed into a Fifth Generation sensor fusion electronics bonanza demonstrator; where all aspects of R&D are protected by the program, rather than being exposed to scrutiny and being picked off in the free market.

    • Sam76-99

      The haters won’t listen - it’s easier for them to rant about LM, the MIC and the rest of their alphabet soup!