On the occasion of the recent delivery by Lockheed Martin to the Air Force of the first two upgraded F-16s in the most modern Viper configuration, we sought out the Vice President of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Mr. Denny Plessa, who was also the main initiator of the program along with the leadership of the Air Force.
Major system upgrades include: APG-83 type AESA active electronically scanned array radar. New MMC-7000AH Discrete Tier Mission Computer with Advanced Detection and Interference Detection / Mitigation Technology, new Central Displays, Link-16 capability, SNIPER, SASSM and PaveWay II slot.
F-16s have been in service with the Air Force since 1984. How did we get from Block 30s to “Vipers”?
Cooperation with Greece for the F-16 began in November 1984, when the Greek government expressed its interest in acquiring thirty-four (34) single-seat F-16C aircraft and six (6) two-seat F-16D aircraft for the replacement of F-5A/B Freedom Fighter aircraft.
The first contract, named Peace Xenia I, was signed in January 1987. The first jet aircraft began arriving in Greece in 1989. Since then the Greek Air Force has acquired a total of 170 aircraft of this type (F-16). The first F-16 upgradeable prototype was received at the ODA in February 2020, and flight testing of the aircraft began in January 2021. The aircraft flew to the United States to undergo additional ground checks and flight tests in February 2021. Another two aircraft were delivered to the factory in March and April 2021. Flight acceptance tests for the two aircraft were completed last summer. Deliveries to ODA have continued and modification work is currently being carried out on 12 plant receiving positions. By the end of 2027 eighty-three (83) aircraft will have been upgraded to the Viper configuration.
For a long time there was skepticism regarding the feasibility of the program. Was it refuted?
On Monday, September 12, it turned out that those who had reservations about the prospects of the program, the possibilities of integrating all modern systems and the possibilities of the ODA to successfully participate in the program of upgrading the F-16 fighters, in the most modern configuration in the world Viper, they saw in front of them two tangible examples, which, if nothing else, show that with method, planning, organization and excellent technical training, the result can be nothing but success.
In the difficult times the country is going through nationally and through the strong alliances it has developed internationally, partnerships like this one between the USAF, Lockheed Martin, the PA and the ODA seal our shared goals and values.
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, as the weapons system manufacturer, was the designer of the upgraded version of the Viper and assembled a host of capable subcontractors and suppliers to provide the most advanced avionics systems that will give the F-16 operational capabilities in a modern network-centric environment. , in order to respond to the challenges of modern air combat and the shielding of the Greek airspace. In this effort the role of the PA, USAF and ODA, in an impeccable alliance developed internationally, sealed the common operational objectives.
I am confident that employees and management at ODA and Lockheed Martin, working together as a well-functioning team, will successfully complete the remainder of this upgrade and respond to whatever other tasks the Hellenic Armed Forces deem necessary for the country’s defense needs.
What role will this program play in relation to the upgrade of the F-16 Block 50 and the subsequent entry of the F-35 into the Air Force arsenal?
With regard to the F-16 Block 50s, we hope soon – and since the competent committee of the Parliament on Armaments has already approved the program of the relevant upgrade of the fleet of 38 F-16 Block 50 fighters – that the relevant interstate request will be submitted within of days to the American government in order to start the processes.
Already the LoR for LoA of the F-35 fighters, for 20+20 aircraft, has been received by the American authorities and is already being processed by the USAF, the JPO (F-35 Joint Program Office) and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. The above two programs, as well as the ongoing Viper upgrade program, will give the PA an unprecedented power of supremacy in the region.
In closing, I would like to express Lockheed Martin’s warm thanks to the Ministry of National Defense, the General Staff of National Defense, the Directorate General of Defense Equipment and Investments and, of course, the Air Force, as well as the USAF and the US ODC (Office of Defense Cooperation) for the perfect cooperation and support. At the same time I would like to thank the ODA for its response to this unique and multi-dimensional undertaking.