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Chile to upgrade F-16s to M6.6 standard

The Chilean Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16AM Fighting Falcon fighter. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

Chile has awarded Lockheed Martin USD177 million to perform M6.6 tape upgrades on its F-16 fleet. The 31 October award was conducted via the US Department of Defense (DoD) Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme.

The upgrades, which include identification friend-or-foe (IFF) transponders and Link-16 datalinks, are to be installed on Chile's full fleet of F-16s, Lockheed Martin told Janes on 1 November.

“The M6.6 programme will modernise the entire Chilean Air Force F-16 fleet, addressing US interoperability requirements and providing for a long-term comprehensive modernisation plan,” Lockheed Martin told Janes. “The modernisation work itself will be completed in Chile.”

The South American country operates a fleet of 55 F-16s, according to the Janes: World Air Forces database. The Chilean Air Force (Fuerza Aérea de Chile:FACh) acquired 36 F-16AM/BM mid-life update (MLU) aircraft from the Netherlands between 2006 and 2011, in addition to 10 new-build F-16C/D Block 50s from Lockheed Martin. The F-16A/Bs were subsequently upgraded to M4 standard, putting their capabilities on par with the new-build models.

The FACh had not responded to Janes queries at the time of publication.

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