İnternet üzerinden yayın yapan Yunan askeri havacılık dergisi Fox 2'nun Nisan - Mayıs 2010 sayısında, Türk Hava Kuvvetleri'nin F-16 Modernizasyon Projesi'ni tanıtan "Μια διαφορετική ιστορία για τα τουρκικά F-16" (Türk F-16'ları için farklı bir hikaye) başlıklı makalem yayınlandı.
Yunan savunma ve havacılık çevreleri, neredeyse takıntı derecesinde Türk F-16'larının AN/APG-68(V)9 radar güncellemesi almayacağını savunmakta idi. Makalem ile söz konusu takıntıyı ve Yunan savunma camiasının bu kör inadını kırmış oldum.
Dergideki makalenin sonunda (63 - 65. sayfalar) yer alan İngilizce aslını aşağıya ekliyorum. Fırsat bulursam Türkçe çevirisini de hazırlamak istiyorum.
Bu arada Fox2'nun editörünü de tebrik etmek gerekir. Oldukça profesyonel görünümlü, güzel bir e-dergi hazırladı.
Turkey’s order for a total of 160 F-16C/D Block 30/40 Fighting Falcon’s through United States’ Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program in 1984 marked the beginning of a new era for Turkish Air Force (TuAF). The F-16 was going to be the first modern, high performance multirole fighter aircraft. Peace Onyx project also kick started the foundations of Turkish aerospace industry infrastructure, by the build-up of the assembly line of the fighters at TUSAS Aerospace Industries (TAI) at Murted (now Akinci) in Ankara.
The first 8 F-16’s were flown in from General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) facilities at Fort Worth, Texas in 1987. The remaining 152 aircraft were assembled at TAI between 1987 and 1995. Meanwhile in 1992, the order for the second batch of 80 F-16’s was given under Peace Onyx II project, again through FMS but funded by Gulf States in appreciation of Turkey’s support for Operation Desert Storm. This second batch covered more modern Block 50 F-16’s. Local input in the assembly line increased with Peace Onyx II.
With the completion of Peace Onyx II in 1999, a total of 240 F-16’s in 11 squadrons had formed the backbone of TuAF. Operating under two tactical air force commands, these squadrons were tasked with missions such as of air defense, interception, ground attack, Combat Air Patrol (CAP), Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD). Two squadrons were progressively equipped with AN/AAQ-13 and AN/AAQ-14 LANTIRN (Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting InfraRed for Night) pods for nighttime precision strike roles.
Immediately after achieving Initial Operational Capability (IOC), TuAF F-16’s had become extremely engaged in a wide range of tasks, both in peacetime and actual combat missions. They took part in multinational operations in Bosnia and Kosovo, in close air support and precision strike missions against separatist terrorist PKK targets in Southeastern Anatolia and Northern Iraq and in endless dogfights against fighter aircraft of rival neighbor and NATO ally Greece over the Aegean.
Block 30 and Block 40 F-16’s progressively received Falcon Up structural modernization packages and were equipped with AN/ALQ-178(V)3 electronic warfare systems at TAI facilities between 1993 and 1999. A more advanced version, AN/ALQ-178(V)5 was selected for Block 50 F-16’s, but the integration project was continuously delayed by contractual problems.
Preparations for a New Life
From the very beginning of Peace Onyx I, it was planned that F-16 was going to be the main workhorse of TuAF until 2030’s. The fleet of 240 advanced multirole fighters thus needed to be kept up-to-date with the latest avionics, sensor and weapon systems to be able to meet the operational requirements of Turkey.
Initial studies on the modernization of F-16’s started in early 2004 whenthe TuAF issued a Letter of Request (LoR) to the USAF to investigate costs involved with Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP). On 07.11.2004, the US Defense Security Co-operation Agency (DSCA) announced a likely Foreign Military Sale (FMS) for an upgrade package for the Turkish F-16s in line with CCIP. The total value of the program, if all options were to be exercised, was estimated as USD 3.888 billion. This package covered the modernization of 38 F-16 Block 30, 104 F-16 Block 40 and 76 F-16 Block 50 aircraft and included the following avionics and mission systems:
180 AN/APG-68(V)9 radars,
7 full mission trainers for upgrade and/or replacement,
200 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS),
200 AN/AVS-9 Night Vision Goggles (NVG),
2 AN/ASQ-213 HARM Targeting System (export) (HTS(E).
The weapons package covered the following for test and integration purposes:
4 AGM-84H Joint Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER),
4 AGM-84 HARPOON missiles,
6 AIM-120C Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM),
4 drones (aerial targets),
1 AGM-154B Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW),
1 AGM-154A JSOW,
2 AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles,
2 CBU-103 Cluster Bomb Units with Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD),
2 CBU-105 Sensor Fused Weapon (SFW) with WCMD,
1 AGM-88B High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM),
The upgrade package also covered for integraion of IRIS-T, Python 5, Derby, SPICE and Penguin wapon systems as option.
Designated as Peace Onyx III, the project was kick-started on 26.04.2005 with the signature of the USD 1.1 billion Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LoA) which went effective in May 2005. According to this LoA, Peace Onyx III covered the upgrade of 41 Block 30 and 76 Block 50 F-16’s, with the 100 Block 40 F-16’s as option. Like the two predecessor Peace Onyx projects, the Turkish CCIP was to be funded through FMS.
According to the deal, the CCIP kits which include Raytheon APG-68(V)9 radar upgrade kits, colour cockpit displays, new avionics processors, Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), night-vision goggles, Link-16 datalink systems, advanced Identification Friend or Foe (AIFF) and AN/ALQ-178(V)5 electronic warfare systems were to be delivered to TAI for serial integration work. Block 30 F-16’s are to receive a much limited upgrade, since they are being used as Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) and Weapons and Tactics duties in 4th Main Jet Base and 132nd Squadron respectively. Work on these aircraft are being carried on in Air Force 1st Maintenance Center in Eskisehir (Hava Ikmal Bakim Merkezi; HIBM).
Peace Onyx III consists of three stages: Reception of upgrade kits for all the aircraft, modernization of 10 aircraft at TAI facilities for test and verification purposes and serial modernization stage.
The test and verification process has two phases: The first phase, Trial Verification Installation (TVI) covers the upgrade of a total of 4 F-16’s; single and double seat Block 40 and Block 50’s, one for each. Work on these aircraft commenced in July 2007 at TAI. After completion in June 2009, these aircraft left for Lockheed Martin Forth Worth facilities with the escort of 2 TuAF KC-135R Stratotanker’s for a 12-month ground and flight test period.
The second phase, Lead-the-Fleet (LTF) sees the upgrade of 6 F-16’s, this time Block 30, Block 40 and Block 50 F-16’s, again one single and one double seater versions of all Block’s. LTF can be considered as an initial serial production stage. The first two aircraft, an F-16C Block 30 and an F-16D Block 30 were delivered to the TuAF after completion of their modernization. Work on the remaining 4 aircraft started at TAI facilities in January 2010.
The total number of F-16’s to be modernized has been revised as 210, after mishaps since the signature of the LoA.
The third and final stage of the Peace Onyx III is called as “Serial Modernization Phase” and commenced after the meeting of the meeting of Defence Industry Executive Committee (SSIK; Savunma Sanayii Icra Komitesi) on 09.04.2008. This stage of the project covers the modernization of 165 Block 40 and Block 50 fighters. 8 Block 40 and 8 Block 50 aircraft will be modernized at 1. HIBM, while the remaining 149 are to be sent to TAI. Serial Modernization Phase is going to start in October 2010 and will be completed in June 2014 with the last aircraft leaving TAI facilities.
Peace Onyx IV
Procurement of additional 24 – 32 F-16’s as attrition replacement was on table since the second half of 1990’s. There was even a premature plan for forming a dedicated naval strike squadron with the additional F-16’s. However, this plan was not realized because of a number of tactical and economic reasons.
When the Peace Onyx III started to materialize, with the addition of the loss of a total of 30 F-16’s since the first crash in 1988, an urgent need for additional F-16’s rose. According to the schedule plan of the Peace Onyx III, around 45 fighters will be in modernization line, in different stages of refurbishment at any given time between 2010 and 2014. This factor dictated replacement of loss of F-16’s and that was the thrust for Peace Onyx IV.
Peace Onyx IV was officially started with the signature of LoA on 11.05.2007. With a budget of USD 1.72 billion, 14 F-16C Block 50+ and 16 F-16D Block 50+ fighters are going to be delivered in TAI facilities in Ankara after licensed production and tests. The fighters will have Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFT). Peace Onyx IV F-16’s will be equipped with AN/ALQ-211(V)4 AIDEWS electronic warfare suite, AN/ALQ-13 LANTIRN ER and Sniper XR navigation and targeting pods.
Production work for Peace Onyx IV has formally started in December 2009 with the first assembly work started on 01.04.2010. The first aircraft is planned to get out of the assembly line in 2011 and deliveries are expected to be completed in 2012.
Weapons and Systems
Peace Onyx III and Peace Onyx IV F-16’s are planned to have a common configuration in avionics and weapon systems, except the difference in electronic warfare suite.
So far the following weapon systems have been delivered to the TuAF:
50 AGM-154A1 JSOW
54 AGM-154C JSOW
48 AGM-84H SLAM-ER
50 CBU-105 & 50 CBU-103
127 AIM-9X Sidewinder
The integration work on AIM-9X Sidewinder, AGM-84H SLAM-ER and AGM-154 JSOW weapon systems has been completed at 1. HİBM. Deliveries for the upgrade kits of AN/APG-68(V)9 radar, AN/APX-113 AIFF, JHCMS, AN/AVS-9 night vision googles, AGM-84L air launched Harpoon missiles, AN/ASQ-213 HTS and JDAM GPS guided bomb kits have been continuing.
With the completion of Peace Onyx IV in 2012 and Peace Onyx III in 2014, Turkish Air Force is going to have a total of 240 F-16’s, equipped with the latest avionics and weapon systems. Until the introduction of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) in the late second half of 2010’s and their IOC, this fleet is going to continue on being the backbone of TuAF, with the 50 F-4E 2020 Terminator’s. There are ongoing negotiations with the US on the permission of having the authority to get full control on the Operational Flight Program (OFP) of F-16’s in order to integrate indigenously developed avionics and weapon systesm such as ASELSAN’s ASELPOD targeting pod, HGK (Hassas Gudum Kiti; Precision Guidance Kit) GPS guided precision bomb system.
It seems the F-16 is going to be a true legend, both for international aviation society and for Turkish Air Force.