Warplanes: F-16V

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September 19, 2017: Bahrain has ordered another 22 F-16V jet fighters along with upgrades of their existing F-16s to the F-16V standard. This deal involves a lot of additional equipment, training and tech support for all the Bahrani F-16s and will cost a total of $3.86 billion. The F-16V Block 70 is similar to the F-16E Block 60 “Desert Eagle” the UAE (United Arab Emirates) next door has been using since 2005.

Bahrain has been using F-16s since 1990 and has already upgraded them with items like targeting pods and the ability to deliver smart bombs like JDAM (GPS). Originally their F-16s were mainly used for air defense but ones like the F-16E and the Israeli F-16I were obviously more effective and the way to go.

The F-16 can also function as a bomber and ground attack aircraft because it can carry four tons of bombs. In air-to-air combat, the F-16 has shot down 69 aircraft so far, without losing anything to enemy warplanes. It was originally designed as a cheaper alternative to the heavier F-15.

Until now the two most advanced versions of the F-16 have been in use by foreign air forces. The UAE has 80 F-16Es which are optimized for air combat. It is a 22 ton aircraft based on the Block 52 model, but with an AESA (phased array) radar and lots of other additional goodies. The Desert Eagle has undergone upgrades and is similar to what the F-16V will be.

The most advanced F-16 is still the Israeli F-16I, which is optimized for bombing. It's a 24 ton, two seat aircraft, and is probably the most capable F-16 model in service. It is also a modified version of the Block 52, equipped with a more advanced radar (the APG-68X) and the ability to carry Israeli weapons like the Python 4 air-to-air missile and the Popeye 2 air-to-surface missile. Initially costing $45 million each the F-16I has an excellent navigation system, which allows it to fly on the deck (a few hundred feet from the ground), without working the pilot to death. The aircraft can do this at night or in any weather. The F-16I can carry enough fuel to hit targets 1,600 kilometers away (meaning Iran is within range). The aircraft uses the latest short and long range air-to-air missiles, as well as smart bombs. Electronic countermeasures are carried, as is a powerful computer system, which records the details of each sortie in great detail. This is a big help for training. The F-16I is basically optimized to deliver smart bombs anywhere, despite dense air defenses. This further increases Israel's military power versus its neighbors. Israel has received 102 new F-16I fighter-bombers already and added to this are another 125 older F-16s upgraded to the F-16I standard.

The U.S. F-16 is one of the most modified jet fighters in service. While most are still called the F-16C, there are actually six major mods, identified by block number (32, 40, 42, 50, 52, 60), plus the Israeli F-16I. Another special version (the Block 60), for the UAE is called the F-16E. The F-16D is a two seat trainer version of F-16Cs. The various block mods included a large variety of new components (five engines, four sets of avionics, five generations of electronic warfare gear, five radars and many other mechanical, software, cockpit and electrical mods.) The F-16 is the most numerous post-Cold War jet fighter, with over 4,500 built and production nearly ending in 2016. During The Cold War, Russia built over 10,000 MiG-21s, and the U.S over 5,000 F-4s, but since then warplane has plummeted about 90 percent, except for models like the F-16 which remained popular enough to keep the production lines going for another 25 years and then some because there was always a new variant and demand for it.

 


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