An F-16C Block 50 has finished 32 rounds of torture tests inflicted over two years in Lockheed Martin’s Full Scale Durability Test facility in Fort Worth, Texas, which will develop? data needed to conduct a service life extension program on the type, the company announced Tuesday. The aircraft endured 27,713 equivalent flight hours in a stress rig designed to push, pull, and twist its structure to simulate flying the aircraft well past its 8,000 equivalent flight hours design life. After the test was completed, the F-16 was subjected to maximum-load conditions to prove it could still operate within the full flight envelope. It’s now being torn down for inspection of the parts to see which ones held up, which ones fractured, and which ones broke. The data will help the Air Force figure out what kinds of replacement parts and reinforcements it’ll need to SLEP 300 F-16s so the aircraft can serve to 12,000 hours. The Air Force cancelled its Combat Avionics Programmed Extension Suite (CAPES) F-16 upgrade in recent years, but Air Combat Command chief Gen. Hawk Carlisle said in September USAF will have to do some kind of SLEP of the F-16 to keep it flying while the service takes extended deliveries of the F-35. Lockheed Martin flew an upgraded version—the F-16V—in October, which featured many of the improvements USAF wants, including an AESA radar.
More than 100 B-21s will be needed if the nation is to avoid creating a high demand/low capacity capability, panelists said on a Hudson Institute webinar. The B-21's flexibility, stealth, range and payload will be in high demand for a wide range of missions, both traditional and new.