Silent Viper: Why Lockheed Martin is not fiddling with idea of Semi-Stealth F-16 for India
While rival Boeing is repacking its legacy Combat jets with Semi-Stealth tech configuration and has relaunched Semi-Stealthy F-18 and F-15 variants, Pioneer in Stealth technology Lockheed Martin is simply not interested in reconfiguring its legacy F-16 into Semi-stealth combat jet to lure more customers.
Lockheed Martin officials while speaking to Indian media flatly refused to integrate any Stealth elements in F-16 which are currently been offered to India under PM Modi’s “Make in India ” Defence initiative with Private defence collaboration in India. The official added that F-16 has some degree of visual stealth in the jet due to its size but bluntly said Stealth elements needs to be factored in at the time of design stage to develop a Stealthy combat jet.
But Lockheed Martin in mid-1990’s, Lockheed modified the forward structure of a block 30 Viper in an attempt to prove technologies that would be part of the looming Joint Strike Fighter tender. The DSI modified F-16 configurations did provide a drastic reduction in radar cross section, thus lowering an aircraft’s detectability on radar, especially those that function at higher bandwidths.
DSI inlet integrated F-16 With other “low observable” enhancements, such as the inclusion of the Low Observable Nozzle and the installation of radar absorbent coatings and skin may have lead to a reasonable reduction in overall radar cross-section. Lockheed also incorporated LOAN (Low-Observable Asymmetric Nozzle) nozzle into modified F100-PW-200 engine from the JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) Program. LOAN provides a significant reduction in radar cross section and infrared signature emissions from the engine, as well as the potential for reduced maintenance costs.