Lockheed Martin announced Thursday that its F-16C Block 50 aircraft has recently completed 25,000 hours of simulated flight time, demonstrating the safety and durability that is beyond the aircraft’s original design service life of 8,000 Equivalent Flight Hours (EFH).
Further testing is being conducted to identify a definitive, safe flight hour limit for the aircraft.
The F-16 Full Scale Durability Test (FSDT) applies stress to the aircraft’s structure to represent actual aircraft usage and identify potential fatigue issues.
FSDT results will be used to help design and verify Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) structural modifications for the US Air Force and to support F-16 service life certification to 12,000 EFH.
The SLEP aims to extend the service life of up to 300 F-16C/D Block 40-50 aircraft.
The SLEP and related avionics upgrades to the Air Force’s F-16C/D fleet can safely and effectively augment the current fighter force structure as US and allied combat air fleets recapitalize with F-35 Lightning IIs.
“This testing milestone clearly demonstrates that F-16s with SLEP modifications can be safely operated longer than anyone previously thought possible,” said Rod McLean, vice president and general manager of the F-16/F-22 Integrated Fighter Group at Lockheed Martin.
The F-16V, the latest F-16 configuration, includes numerous enhancements designed to keep the F-16 at the forefront of international security.
The Block 50/52 is the current production version of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, featuring the Improved Performance Engines, either the F110-GE-129 for the block 50 or the F100-PW-229 for the block 52.