UAE to sale its F-16 block 60 fighters to potential buyer

As the UAE and U.S. plans to seal a F-35 deal by December, experts speculate that Abu Dhabi could sell some of its F-16 jets to Greece which is entangled in a bitter conflict with Turkey.

The two countries have already seen increased defence cooperation in recent months when UAE dispatched four of its F-16s to Greece to undertake joint exercises with the Hellenic Air Force. Turkey was so infuriated that it threatened to shoot down any UAE fighter jet if it attempted to violate its airspace.

F-35 Deal

However, the recent UAE-Israel peace agreement has changed the equations in the Middle East. Recently, it was reported that a formal deal with the United States might be signed by December 2020, to acquire an estimated 35 F-35A.

Currently, the Arab nation’s air force operates around 80 F-16s, and according to speculations, Abu Dhabi might be reconsidering the amount of jets it can effectively put to use after the arrival of F-35A.

While it has given no indication so far about its F-16s to be put on sale, it may not need 80 of them following the American deal.

Desert Falcon

The F-16 Block 60 Desert Falcon includes a load of enhancements. It has conformal fuel tanks like some of its late-block predecessors, but its F110-GE-132 General Electric turbofan puts out 32,000lbs of thrust. That’s 3,000lbs more than the Block 50’s F110-GE-129. It was built with Northrop Grumman’s AN/APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar system, which was at the time of introduction into service, and still is, incredibly capable. You can read about the benefits of fighter-sized AESAs in this past piece of ours, but for the F-16, which is something of the hallmark of multi-role fighters, being able to perform multiple modes, such as air-to-air and air-to-ground, simultaneously and seamlessly equals a massive leap in capability and situational awareness. 

The Desert Falcons also take a step beyond the standard ground surveillance and targeting pod systems fielded on other F-16s, by incorporating them into the aircraft itself. Northrop Grumman’s AN/ASQ-32 IFTS is derived from its work on the AN/AQS-28 LITENING AT, but internal carriage reduces drag and radar signature, and frees up a weapons pylon. The ASQ-32 can even be used to find aerial targets, allowing passive targeting, and offering a tracking option that radar stealth won’t evade.

Greece is a potential buyer

It should be remembered that the Greek government has already recently secured a deal with France for 18 Rafale jets, also facilitating its naval expansion by acquiring 4 frigates and 4 naval helicopters. Under the expansion programme, it would increase the size of its armed forces by 15,000 more troops over the next 5 years.

While Greece has already signed an agreement with France for its Rafales, another deal with the UAE for F-16s could question the credibility of the Turkish Air Force.

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