Misawa F-16s receive system upgrade to boost tactical power

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

As years pass technology continuously progresses, including the F-16 Fighting Falcon avionics systems, a warfighting computer reaping the benefits of man’s technological advancements.

The 35th Fighter Wing’s F-16 fleet began an avionics upgrade this week to further enhance the fleet’s readiness, situational awareness and tactical capabilities, ensuring Misawa provides the highest level of stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and peace of mind for its allies.

“Anything we do to improve assets overall enhances our multinational fight to achieve our common goal,” said Lt. Col. Wesley Hales, the 13th Fighter Squadron director of operations.

The avionics upgrade fuses information with the pilots’ aircraft sensors and heads-up display, administering an increase of more information and elevates situational awareness during the suppression of enemy air-defense training missions.

“The upgrade will provide a more accurate depiction of what is going on in the heads-up display,” Hales said. “Our radar picture represented on a square wasn’t always true to scale. Something coming straight at an aircraft would eventually launch to the side of our view. Whereas now, we basically have a God’s eye view of what’s going on.”

The HUD is a display on the aircraft relaying important aircraft and combat information to pilots. Information like the target range, aircraft flight and navigational data.

“This enables us to see and process data faster during dynamic and complex missions,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Kenkel, the 14th Fighter Squadron director of operations. “The [upgrade] also changes the way the aircraft physically interfaces with the pilot. Multiple changes to hands-on throttle and stick functionality enables pilots to more effectively use the displays while keeping their hands on the controls of the aircraft.”

Not only does the upgrade provide tactical advantages, but it also adds to the quality of training new pilots receive.

“Each new pilot will quickly adapt to this version of aircraft systems and essentially they will be able to have more situational awareness using the tools provided to them,” Hales said.

Hales said both aircraft maintenance unit personnel are working together to simultaneously phase both the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons’ fleet into the new upgrade by Aug. 1, enabling emerging pilots to receive a finer quality of training.

“This upgrade will further our readiness in the operations world,” Hales said. “It will be a game changer for everyone.”

As the system is implemented many pilots wait in anticipation to be able to bring more fight to future air battles.

“I am excited about the [enhancement]” Kenkel said. “It should be a precursor to some bigger and better changes as we see more [system improvements] down the road.”