BAE Systems has begun to upgrade 134 South Korean F-16 aircraft in partnership with the U.S. Air Force.
Two of the F-16s recently arrived at the company’s modification facility at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, Texas, where they will be equipped with advanced weapons and next-generation avionics, including advanced mission computers, new cockpit displays, and advanced radars and targeting sensors.
The work is part of a Foreign Military Sales program for the Republic of Korea’s fleet of KF-16C/D Block 52 aircraft over several years. With a contract now in place, the program marks the first time a non-original equipment manufacturer is performing a major upgrade for a 4th-generation U.S. fighter jet. The company is also offering similar capabilities to other countries around the world in need of F-16 upgrades.
“The arrival of the jets is a major milestone for our entire team and a historic occasion for both our company and the industry,” said John Bean, vice president and general manager of Global Fighter Programs at BAE Systems. “Our long-term goal is to offer future customers sophisticated aircraft upgrades with an innovative systems integration approach, providing cost-effective solutions to meet each customer’s unique requirements while reducing their long-term sustainment costs.”
Under terms negotiated by the Republic of Korea Air Force and the U.S. government, the company is performing Phase One of the KF-16 program, which also includes associated equipment, parts, training, and logistical support. Phase Two will begin this year and will fund completion of the systems integration and flight test activities, followed by production and installation of the upgrades.
The work to upgrade the KF-16 fleet will be performed primarily at BAE Systems’ facility in Fort Worth. Other company sites in Florida, New York, California, and Virginia will also be involved. BAE Systems has a team of experienced, qualified leaders and experts in place to effectively manage and support the KF-16 program now, but expects to hire approximately 150 additional employees over the next few months. Job opportunities are available in the areas of advanced mission computers, advanced radar, avionics, and weapons and systems integration at www.baesystems.com/fighterprograms.