Air Guard Exploring F-16 SLEP Options

The Air National Guard must invest in its elderly F-16 Block 30 fleet to maintain the nation’s air sovereignty alert sites—16 of the 18 sites are operated by ANG—because it’s “difficult” to see how ASA units can recapitalize before their F-16s reach the end of their life cycles, given the restructured production rate for the F-35, said Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt III, ANG director, Monday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference. Wyatt said the current recapitalization timetable makes it essential to examine service life extension options in the Fiscal 2012 budget. For example, replacing the lower wing skin on Block 30 F-16s could add four to five extra years, which, Wyatt said, might bridge the ASA gap. “We are looking at SLEP funds to buy us time,” Wyatt said. “If we don’t get that, we’re are going to lose some of these aircraft.” And, he said, if the F-16 system program office confirms that an F-16 SLEP might provide an additional 10 years or so, then the business case for upgrading radar, command and control, and avionics gets better as well, Wyatt told the Daily Report after his speech.