The Specialized and Proven Aircraft program office recently completed a modification on several U.S. Navy F-16A Fighting Falcon aircraft to increase readiness and service life.
The FalconUp modification improves F-16A readiness by extending their fatigue lives by more than 500 hours and provides the configuration baseline to incorporate the funded Falcon Star program, which adds an additional 3,750 hours to the service life of the aircraft.
The Navy uses the F-16A as “red” or adversary aircraft in advanced tactical and aerial combat training.
“The FalconUp upgrade incorporates structural improvements that extend the service life of the aircraft from 3,665 hours to 4,250 hours,” said Capt. Ramiro Flores, program manager. “The program procured and installed proven structural modification kits on 10 Navy aircraft that enhanced and strengthened their internal structure.”
The program office used a rapid acquisition approach, in this case a build-to-print strategy to minimize risk and eliminate the need for test plans, systems engineering plans and design reviews. Build-to-print is a process in which a manufacturer produces products, equipment or components according to the customer’s exact specifications.
The program office leveraged existing designs that the Air Force and international partners have used to install the modification and have been including it in production of the F-16 for over two decades.
“Since the proven design has flown thousands of hours in this configuration, and it doesn’t require expansion of the current flight envelope, we were able to deliver this training capability to the warfighter much faster than a traditional program,” said Lt. Cmdr. Heather Bliss, adversary program team co-lead.
“The upgrade allows the Navy to provide mission ready adversary aircraft for Naval Aviation advanced tactical and aerial combat training, extending the operational life of the F-16A through 2025,” said Boyd Forsythe, adversary program team lead.
The program office is responsible for life cycle cradle to grave management of several legacy and out-of-inventory aircraft and engines, assigned by NAVAIR and contracted air services.