First Greek Air Force upgraded F-16 Viper makes maiden flight

The first of 84 Greek Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters to be upgraded to the F-16V Viper standard took to the skies for the first time on January 17, David Donald reports on Greece’s Minister of Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos announced the news on Twitter, noting that the maiden flight was conducted with “absolute success”, and that the upgrade program “continues at an intensive pace.”

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First Greek Air Force upgraded F 16V makes maiden flight

Conversion of F-16 005 to F-16V Viper standard began at Tanagra in January 2020. This aircraft is  taxying at the base in preparation for its first flight (Picture source: Greek MoD)

The F-16V had been upgraded at the Tanagra facility of Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI), which is to carry out the modifications to the fleet in a program that was approved by the U.S. government in October 2017. The value is estimated to reach around $1.5 billion.

The first airframe, carrying the serial number 005, was originally delivered in 2009 as an F-16C Block 52+ with Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engine as part of the Peace Xenia IV sale, David Donald reports. Greece acquired a total of 90 Block 52/52+ aircraft and the survivors are the subject of the upgrade. The Hellenic Air Force (HAF) also received 80 Block 30/50 aircraft powered by the General Electric F110, but they are not part of the F-16V program.

After modernization, the aircraft is now an F-16V in Block 72 configuration, the “2” denoting its P&W powerplant. The key element of the modernization is the installation of the Northrop Grumman APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR), a sensor with an active electronically scanned array (AESA). The cockpit has a new center pedestal display and is compatible with the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) II. Other improvements include a new mission computer, an automatic ground collision avoidance system, enhanced electronic warfare capabilities, Link 16 datalink, and an advanced identification friend or foe interrogator system.