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Lockheed Martin to modernize South Korean F-16 fleet

By Ryan Maass
Lockheed Martin to modernize South Korean F-16 fleet
Under the contract with Lockheed Martin, the Republic of Korea Air Force's F-16s will receive modernized avionics, a high-speed data bus, and other enhancements. Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee/U.S. Air Force

FORT WORTH, Texas, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin has received a $1.2 billion contract to upgrade 134 F-16 fighters for South Korea's air force.

Under the contract, the company will provide a variety of enhancements including an active alectronically acanned array radar, modernized avionics, a high-speed data bus, and a high resolution center pedestal display. Lockheed Martin officials say the upgrades are essential for keeping the fighters competitive.

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"We truly appreciate the trust and confidence the Republic of Korea has placed in us with this contract," Lockheed Martin F-16 program vice president Susan Ouzts said in a press release. "These upgrades are a critical piece of South Korea's national defense and highlight Lockheed Martin's commitment to the full lifecycle of the F-16, from production to through-life sustainment."

The South Korean government contracted Lockheed Martin through a foreign military sales agreement issued by the U.S. Air Force.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multirole fighter initially designed by General Dynamics for both air-to-air and air-to-ground attack missions. The aircraft is capable of flying at speeds of 1,500 miles-per-hour, and is typically armed with an M-61A1 20mm multibarrel cannon in addition to six air-to-air missiles and other munitions.

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South Korea operates a total of 180 F-16C/D aircraft. The country's fleet is comprised of Block 30 and Block 52 aircraft, locally designated as KF-16. It was the second air force to fly the fighters, and the fifth country to open an F-16 production line.

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