The U.S. Department of Defense said Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $177 million Foreign Military Sales contract for the upgrade of 36 Chilean Air Force F-16 jetfighters. Chile acquired the F-16s from the Netherlands in two separate deliveries of 18 each in 2005 and 2009.
A company spokesperson told Defense News that Lockheed will enhance the F-16s’ identification friend or foe capability and provide the aircraft’s Link 16 tactical communications system.
According to the news website’s Pentagon and Chilean sources, Lockheed will work on the upgrades in Fort Worth, Texas, and Greenville, South Carolina, with some tasks also set to take place at the Chilean Air Force’s maintenance facilities in Santiago and Antofagasta.
The DOD announcement noted that Lockheed’s deadline for completing the upgrade is Nov. 30, 2032.
Defense News sources said the upgraded F-16s are expected to be operational up to the early 2040s. They added that the Lockheed contract signals the start of a Chilean Air Force upgrade program where more contracts are likely to emerge.