Singapore continues to upgrade its F-16 fighter jets. Photo/Reuters
SINGAPORE – The Republic of Singapore Air Force’s (RSAF) F-16 fighter jets have been upgraded to increase their capabilities and keep them operational until the mid-2030s.
This was confirmed by the Ministry of Defense (MINDEF). These enhanced capabilities include an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar that allows the F-16 to track and attack multiple targets from long distances, as well as an all-weather ground attack capability that allows it to engage targets more capably. precision ammunition.
In 2019, Singapore first announced it would buy four F-35B fighter jets for full testing with an option for eight more units. The F-35 will replace the RSAF’s aging F-16 fleet, which entered service in 1998 and will become obsolete after 2030.
Upgrades to the F-16 began in 2016, and upgrades were phased in over the following years.
In addition to AESA, some of the latest upgrades for the F-16 fleet include the Joint Helm Mounted Cueing System, where pilots will be equipped with a “first-look, first-shoot” high off-boresight capability. This allows the pilot to aim the weapon at the target simply by pointing his head in the direction of the target.
The system also gives pilots an overview of data including airspeed, altitude and target range, without needing to look into the cockpit during dogfights.
The new upgrade will also equip the jet with modern air-to-air missiles such as the Python-5 missile, allowing it to engage a broad spectrum of air threats for increased lethality and survivability.
With the new Air-to-Ground munitions system, the F-16 jet can also attack targets with greater accuracy in both day and night conditions using munitions such as the Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition.
In a fast-moving air combat environment, the upgraded F-16 will also be able to facilitate information exchange through the new Link-16 datalink capability, which allows sharing of target information with other aircraft and ground forces. This can prevent dual targeting and overuse of weapons.
Lastly, the Electronic Warfare suite of this upgraded fleet can detect, identify, and counter threats posed by adversaries using an integrated electronic support and countermeasures system consisting of warning receivers, radar jammers, and chaff/flare dispensers.
“With these new and advanced capabilities, the upgraded F-16 will ensure the RSAF’s operational readiness and ability to defend Singapore’s skies until the mid-2030s,” said MINDEF, reported by CNA.
Meanwhile, four RSAF F-35Bs, expected to be delivered around 2026, will first be deployed in the continental United States for training and evaluation to determine their capabilities and integration with other Singapore Armed Forces warfare systems.