In what seems to be of great concern to Israel, media reports said Thursday that the United Arab Emirates' air force will receive a more updated version of the F-16 plane than that being supplied to the Israeli air force.
Israel has purchased the F-16I, while the UAE will receive the F-16 Block 60, which completed its first successful flight last weekend.
In an official statement, Lockheed Martin, which manufactures the planes, described the F-16 Block 60 as the newest and most advanced of the series.
Lockheed Martin will provide the UAE with 80 such planes, which, together with their sophisticated equipment, will cost $8 billion.
The first aircraft - designated the F-16E/F - will be delivered to the United Arab Emirates in April 2004.
Dain Hancock, president of Lockheed Martin, said, "With the Block 60, we have introduced a whole new generation of capability that sets the current world standard for multirole fighters."
The plane's major innovations include structural, avionics and propulsion enhancements that make it practically an all-new version of the Fighting Falcon, according to the company's press statement.
"First flight affirms our commitment to produce the world's most cutting-edge fighter, which cannot be rivaled in its combination of speed, technology and capability," said John Bean, Lockheed Martin's vice president for F-16 programs.
The F-16E/F resembles earlier F-16 aircraft in appearance only.
Internally, the Block 60 has an all-new cockpit that features all-digital instruments and three 5x7-inch color displays. Its highlights are a revolutionary Electronic Warfare (EW) system, the new APG-80 Agile Beam Radar (ABR), and a new Integrated FLIR Targeting System (IFTS), provided by Northrop Grumman. This enables the aircraft to increase the scope of its search with greater precision.
According to an informed source, the radar system in the F-16E/F has a cutting edge over that in the planes due to be supplied to the Israeli air force. (Albawaba.com)
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