Turkey decided not to wait for the supply of equipment for the modernization of the F-16 from the United States and began to improve fighters on their own. The head of the defense industry, Ismail Demir, said that the first aircraft had been upgraded.
What is known
The Turkish modernization program is called ÖZGÜR. After the upgrade, the F-16 fighter corresponds to the Block 70/72 Viper level. The aircraft can carry two dozen Turkish-made missiles, including Merlin and Peregrin, which are replacements for the AIM-120 AMRAAM.
Turkey has upgraded the F-16 Block 30 fighter. In the future, Block 40 and Block 50 aircraft will also have to be upgraded. In total, it is planned to upgrade more than 200 fighters.
One of the key components of ÖZGÜR is the new radar station with an active phased antenna array. It was developed by Aselsan. The radar contains modules based on gallium nitride and is able to track targets in the air, on land and at sea.
In addition, the F-16 ÖZGÜR received a new digital cockpit. It makes it possible to display additional information about the mission on the pilot’s helmet in augmented reality mode.
One of the most important components of the Block 70/72 upgrade is the Link 16 communication system. It allows the F-16 to exchange data with fifth-generation fighters and Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems, as well as recognize aircraft in “friend-foe” mode. The ÖZGÜR program involves the installation of the Turkish analogue of Link 16, but there are no details about this yet.