Warplanes: More F-16s Replace More F-35s


December 21, 2011: Faced with more delays in receiving their new F-35 fighters Israel is upgrading 76 older F-16C/D fighters to include many of the features found in their hundred more modern F-16Is. The upgrades will include the "look and shoot" helmet and the "glass cockpit" (with its high resolution flat screen displays and more efficient pilot interface.) There is also a mission-debriefing system that captures everything the pilot did during a sortie. This data can be analyzed for pilot errors or missed opportunities for better moves. The entire sortie can be played back. The first F-35s won't begin arriving in quantity until the end of the decade and Israel is concerned that they will need more capable aircraft before then.

The most capable F-16 model in service is the F-16I, used exclusively by Israel. It's basically a modified version of the F-16C/D Block 50/52, equipped with more advanced radar (the APG-68X) and the ability to carry Israeli weapons like the Python 4 air-to-air missile and the Popeye 2 air-to-surface missile. Costing $70 million each the F-16I has an excellent navigation system, which allows it to fly on the deck (a few hundred feet from the ground) without working the pilot to death. The aircraft can do this at night or in any weather. The F-16I can carry enough fuel to hit targets 1,600 kilometers away (meaning Iran is within range). The aircraft uses the latest short and long range air-to-air missiles, as well as smart bombs. Electronic countermeasures are carried, as is a powerful computer system, which records the details of each sortie in great detail. This is a big help for training. The F-16I is basically optimized to deliver smart bombs anywhere, at any time, in any weather and despite dense air defenses. This further increases Israel's military power versus its neighbors. The updated F-16C/Ds and the F-35s will do the same.




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