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Lockheed Martin Awarded $542 Million Chilean Air Force Contract to Upgrade F-16 Fighter Jets

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Lockheed Martin Awarded $542 Million Chilean Air Force Contract to Upgrade F-16 Fighter Jets

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Chilean Air Force F-16 Fighter Jet
Chilean Air Force F-16 Fighter Jet

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $177,048,070 firm-fixed-price and a maximum amount to include a time and material ceiling amount of $100,000 on contract for F-16 Systems Program Office Foreign Military Sales support. This contract provides for Foreign Military Sales support to Chilean Air Force/Fuerza Aérea de Chile F-16 M6.6 Operational Flight Program and Systems Upgrade. Work will be performed at Fort Worth, Texas; Greenville, South Carolina; and Chile, and is expected to be completed by Nov. 30, 2032. This contract involves Foreign Military Sales to Chile. This contract was a sole source acquisition. Foreign Military Sales funds in the amount of $177,148,070 are being obligated at time of award. The U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is the contracting activity.

Chile currently operates 44 F-16s. That includes 10 Block 50 models purchased in the early 2000s, as well as 36 older models bought second-hand from the Netherlands. Reports that Chile would look to upgrade their existing F-16 fleet first emerged in 2017, but final details had not been made public. Analysts have also speculated that Chile may look to buy a small number of new F-16s to supplement its fleet. The upgrades included in this potential sale include 19 Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS); six inert MK-82 (500LB) general purpose bomb bodies; two MXU-650KB Air Foil Groups (AFG); 44 LN-260 Embedded GPS/INS (EGI) and 49 Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radios (MIDS JTRS). Also included are avionics equipment and software upgrades, new radios, upgraded IFF transponders, secure communications equipment and other parts.

It recently became clear that the Chilean F-16s would be equipped with Israeli Python 4 and Derby missiles as well as JDAM. Furthermore the Chilean F-16s will lack the standard TACAN system because there is no use to it in South America. The airframes also lack the possibility to fire AMRAAM or HARM missiles. This is prohibited by the US. The MLU birds are adapted in the same way. Link 16 terminals are also absent on the new birds and are removed in the MLU airframes upon delivery. In later years the usage of both the AMRAAM and HARM missiles was approved by US Congress and introduced into the inventory of the FACh. For low-level navigation the Chilean Air Force bought 25 GEC-Marconi Atlantic pods from the Netherlands. They bought 60 of them in the nineties but never put them in operational use since low-level flying within NATO is replaced by medium and high level flying due to changed operational circumstances.

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