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USAF releases M7.2+ upgrade to more than 600 F-16s

The US Air Force (USAF) has released the latest software and hardware upgrade planned for more than 600 of its Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft, the service disclosed on 28 April.

An OFP M7.2+ standard F-16 undergoing pre-release flight trials. The USAF plans to roll out the upgrade to more than 600 of its F-16 aircraft.

The Operational Flight Program (OFP) M-series 7.2+ upgrade, earmarked for retrofit to current Block 40/42/50/52 F-16s, was released in April following a USD455 million development programme led by the F-16 System Program Office (SPO) located at both Hill Air Force Base (AFB) in Utah and Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio.

As noted by the USAF, OFP M7.2+ adds 42 major capability enhancements onto older model F-16s, including the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar (deemed to be the top priority for Northern Command [USNORTHCOM]), the ability to employ the Lockheed Martin AGM-158B Joint Air-To-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) and latest variant Raytheon AIM-120D Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM).

The F-16 SPO, the 309th Software Engineering Group (SWEG), the OFP Combined Test Force (CTF) including the Air Force Test Center Developmental Test, 53 Wing Operational Test, and the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Test Center are partnered to develop and field software capability upgrades, the air force said.

OFP M7.2+ has been a totally in-house development for the USAF, with the OFP CTF located at Eglin AFB in Florida conducting more than 4,200 sorties and 4,600 flight hours, including participation in the 2019 Northern Edge Exercise.

The OFP M7.2+ is part of a wider modernisation process planned for the USAF’s F-16 that includes a service-life extension programme (SLEP) to extend the service lives of up to 841 Block 40-52 F-16C/D aircraft from the current 8,000 hours to nearly 14,000 hours.

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