Warplanes: Belgium Lets The F-16 Fade Away In Style


June 8, 2014: Belgium continues to reduce and upgrade its F-16 fighter force. During the Cold War Belgium assembled (under license) 150 F-16s in Belgium with the last one delivered in 1991. The F-16 fleet began shrinking once the Cold War ended in 1991 and the new plan is to keep 60 of the most recently built F-16s. Only 48 will remain in service, the other 12 will be for spare parts. These aircraft were refurbished in the late 1990s and with the new round of upgrades could last until the 2030s or later.

The latest upgrades are minor. A new fire control system will allow a wider array of smart bombs and missiles to be carried. There are also upgrades to communications and security (IFF) systems. These older F-16A fighters are basically being turned into fighter-bombers, although pilots were recently equipped with JHMCS helmet-mounted displays which makes pilots more lethal in close range air-to-air combat. Belgium plans to use its F-16s mainly for peacekeeping, meaning they need better capabilities for using smart bombs. Belgium already has eight Sniper targeting pods.

Belgium has no plans to buy the F-35, or any other aircraft to replace its F-16s. Since the remaining F-16s are being upgraded so they will last for another two decades, the Belgians are not in any hurry to seek out a replacement yet.



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