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Singapore goes public on upgraded F-16s' Python 5 missile capabilities

An RSAF F-16 on display at Paya Lebar Air Base in September 2023. (Janes/Ridzwan Rahmat)

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has publicly confirmed that its upgraded Lockheed Martin F-16 C/D/D+ fighter aircraft are now armed with the Python 5 air-to-air missile.

This confirmation can be seen on an information board at a stand that has been set up at Paya Lebar Air Base to showcase the aircraft.

The base is accessible to the public from 9 to 10 September as part of an ‘open house' event to mark the service's 55th anniversary. Janes was granted advanced access as part of a media event.

Prior to this event, confirmation regarding the Python 5 and its deployment status on the RSAF's fleet of upgraded F-16s was provided to select media outlets on a non-attributable basis.

The Python 5 is an Israeli fourth-generation air-to-air missile with surface-to-air applications.

It features an improved maximum range of 20 km when compared with its predecessor, the Python 4, which can strike targets at distances of up to 15 km.

In addition to this, the Python 5 is incorporated with a new imaging infrared (IIR) seeker with an improved signal processing system and an improved onboard inertial measurement unit (IMU) that provides the weapon with lock‐on‐after‐launch (LOAL) capabilities.

The weapon was incorporated into the RSAF's fleet of upgraded F-16 C/D/D+ fighters as part of the aircraft's mid-life upgrade (MLU) programme.

The RSAF has never disclosed the number of airframes it operates, but the service is believed to have a fleet of 20 F-16C and 40 F-16D Block 52/52+ airframes. The aircraft are presently undergoing an MLU programme to extend their service lives into the 2030s.

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