Texas: As the deadline for India’s biggest ever defence deal for purchase of 126 new fighter planes nears, US aviation giant Lockheed Martin today unveiled a new upgraded version of its F-16 fighter planes with ‘super cruise´ capability and Active Electronic Scanned Array (AESA) radars.
So far, the ‘super cruise´ capability is only seen in 5th generation fighters F-22 Raptors and its just unrolling F-35 joint strike fighters.
This capability would impart the fighter with extended range, as it can zoom from take-off to breaking the sound barrier without the use of fuel guzzling after-burners.
The export version of the fighters, for the first time, has also been equipped with AESA radars, as reportedly specified in the Indian Air Force’s USD 10-billion tender for the acquisition of 126 fighters.
Top company official Chuck Artymovich told a group of Indian newsmen that the AESA radar, which gives the capability to simultaneously track and destroy ground and air threats, has been cleared by the US government for installation in 80 F-16s ordered by the United Arab Emirates.
“We are confident that similar green signal would be given for installation of such radars in the case of export to India also,” he said.
Speaking while unveiling an India-specific Fighting Falcons (F-16 IN), the Lockheed Martin executive said that the proposed fighter planes would also be armed with infra-red search and track pods as well as, counter-electronic warfare pods.