Air Force Collecting F-16 SLEP Info

The Air Force has issued a solicitation for companies able and interested to participate in a Service Life Extension Program of the F-16 fleet. The solicitation, issued on Jan. 14, would apply to F-16C and D aircraft in Blocks 40-52, and the SLEP would extend aircraft life from 8,000 equivalent flight hours to at least 10,000 (the threshold, or minimum) and possibly 12,000 (the objective). USAF said there may be a foreign military sales element, as well. The Air Force emphasized that it’s not ready to contract for the SLEP, but is seeking “initial sources.” The service has not yet asked Congress to fund an F-16 SLEP, but has said in recent years that one will be necessary to preserve minimum fleet sizes given delays in bringing the F-35 into service. The Jan. 14 solicitation focused on structural elements, “consumables” (such as nuts, bolts, and washers), and companies able to assemble and integrate the upgrade kits. Notably, the solicitation said nothing about new sensors or avionics, such as an Active Electronically-Scanned Array radar, which USAF officials have said will be needed for any F-16s that may be extended in service. The service will compete elements of the SLEP as much as possible, and will try to attract small businesses to participate. It said an “industry day” will be scheduled to brief potential offerors. (See also: F-16 Finishes Torture Test.)