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Singapore completes upgrade of F-16 fleet

The completion of the mid-life upgrade of the Republic of Singapore Air Force's F-16 fleet increases the type's operational service life to the mid-2030s. (Getty Images/Suhaimi Abdullah)

The Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF's) Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fleet has been upgraded for improved operational capabilities.

The enhancements are part of a long-standing mid-life upgrade (MLU) for the RSAF's F-16C/D/D+ Block 52/52+ fleet. Singapore first announced a plan to upgrade the fleet in September 2013. The RSAF is currently thought to operate 60 F-16C/D/D+ fighter aircraft.

In a statement on 24 September, the Singapore's Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said the improvements have increased the operational service of the RSAF F-16 fleet to the mid-2030s. According to MINDEF, the MLUs include a new active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. Other capability enhancements include the ability to integrate newer air-to-air missiles, such as the Rafael Python-5 missile.

These upgrades enable the F-16s “to engage a wider spectrum of air threats”, MINDEF said.

The ministry added that the new radar can track a greater number of targets than the radars previously installed in the Block 52/52+ aircraft. MINDEF said the new radar also has extended detection ranges, which allows the F-16 to “detect and engage targets further away”.

The new radar's “multiple modes also provide greater operational flexibility and enhance operational effectiveness even in cluttered conditions”, MINDEF added.

Upgraded F-16s also have an improved ground attack capability for the employment of precision munitions such as the Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition (LJDAM), according to MINDEF. The ministry's statement added that the F-16s now have the capability to strike a variety of targets (including mobile targets) in all-weather, plus day and night conditions.

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