|First Hellenic Air Force upgraded F-16 Viper makes maiden flight.|
The first Greek F-16 fighter upgraded to the standard F-16V Viper successfully conducted its maiden flight on January 17. Greece's National Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos announced the news via Twitter, noting that the Upgrade Program "continues at an intense pace."
The aircraft, with serial number 005, is a former F-16C Block 52+ which has been updated at the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) plant in Tanagra, where all 84 Greek Falcons will be modified as agreed by the US government in October 2017.
The key to the modernization is the installation of the Northrop Grumman APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR), a sensor with an active Electronic Scanning 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, automatic ground collision avoidance, advanced electronic warfare capabilities, Link 16 data link, and an advanced friend or foe interrogation system.
The "005" jet will now undergo a short test campaign in Greece before being ferried to the United States by the end of the month to complete the conversion and undergo a thorough evaluation before being certified. All first flights will be conducted by US Air Force test pilots and Lockheed Martin. The next three F-16Vs are also expected to go to the United States to join the test fleet. Once the certification process is successful, Lockheed Martin will authorize HAI to proceed with the rest of the upgrade program, which is expected to be completed by June 2027.
The F-16 upgrade program is one of several efforts to revive the Hellenic Air Force's combat fleet. Earlier this month, the Greek parliament approved the purchase of eighteen Dassault Rafale fighters. Additionally, in November 2020, Athens sent the United States a letter of request to urgently procure 18-24 Lockheed Martin F-35A stealth fighters.
👉 Find out more about Hellenic Vipers in our previous reports
Written by Matteo Sanzani