Indonesia rolls out first F-16A eMLU fighter
The Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) has unveiled its first F-16A enhanced Midlife Upgrade (eMLU) aircraft, with upgrades carried out locally by PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) under Lockheed Martin supervision.
It performed its maiden flight on 18 February, flown by a Lockheed Martin test pilot, while the official rollout took place on 9 April to celebrate the 74th anniversary of the TNI-AU.
Known as the Falcon Star programme, the modifications see installation of an updated APG-68(V)9 radar with synthetic aperture capability, certification of the AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder missile, AIM-120C-7 AMRAAM, GBU-54 laser JDAM, AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Targeting Pod and provisions for the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System, amongst other avionics and mission computer improvements.
The MLU will also double the airframe service life to 8,000h.
Ten F-16A/B Block 15 fighters will undergo the Falcon Star upgrade.
The TNI-AU received 12 F-16s between 1989 and 1990 under the Peace Bima Sena I programme, making the oldest aircraft over 30 years old. The TNI-AU also has 24 refurbished ex-USAF F-16 C/D Block 25s, which were upgraded to near Block 50/52 standard, these being delivered between 2015 and 2017.
The F-16As are painted in the standard two-tone grey scheme seen on most F-16s worldwide, compared to the green-grey camouflage applied to most TNI-AU jets. They will be assigned to Air Wing 3 at Iswahyudi Air Base.
Elsewhere, reports suggest that Indonesia has dropped its planned Sukhoi Su-35 deal partly due to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which might result in limited support for its existing US platforms.
However, Russia later refuted these rumours, claiming that no confirmation had been made by either Moscow or Jakarta.
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