Warplanes: More F-16s Head For Oman

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December 23, 2011: The Persian Gulf state of Oman has ordered another dozen U.S. F-16C/D fighters (ten single seat Cs and two twin seat Ds). A decade ago, Oman bought eight Cs and four Ds. This will give Oman 24 F-16C/D Block 50 aircraft, with the latest radar and other electronics.

Oman's smaller, but wealthier neighbor, the UAE (United Arab Emirates) has 80 "Desert Falcons" (the F-16E) which is optimized for air combat. It is a 22 ton aircraft based on the Block 52 model but with AESA (phased array) radar and lots of other additional goodies, including excellent ground attack capabilities. The UAE invested $3 billion to develop, build, and test the additional features found in the F-16E.

The U.S. F-16 is one of the most modified jet fighters in service. While most are still called the F-16C, there are actually six major mods, identified by block number (32, 40, 42, 50, 52, 60), plus the Israeli F-16I, which is a major modification of the Block 52. The other special version (the Block 60), for the UAE, is called the F-16E. The various block mods included a large variety of new components (five engines, four sets of avionics, five generations of electronic warfare gear, five radars and many other mechanical, software, cockpit, and electrical mods.) The F-16 is the most numerous post-Cold War jet fighter, with over 4,200 built and more in production. During The Cold War, Russia built over 10,000 MiG-21s and the U.S over 5,000 F-4s, but since 1991, warplane manufacturing has plummeted about 90 percent. However, the F-16 has been popular enough to keep the production lines going strong.

 


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