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

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sonethasinh Sayasaeng, a 35th Maintenance Squadron avionics technician, prepares an F-16 Fighting Falcon for an M7.1 upgrade at Misawa Air Base, Japan, July 13, 2017. The upgrade will provide pilots with more tactical information to be applied to dynamic missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sonethasinh Sayasaeng, a 35th Maintenance Squadron avionics technician, prepares an F-16 Fighting Falcon for an M7.1 upgrade at Misawa Air Base, Japan, July 13, 2017. The upgrade will provide pilots with more tactical information to be applied to dynamic missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sonethasinh Sayasaeng, left, shows Airman 1st Class Talon Cotterman, right, both 35th Maintenance Squadron avionics technicians, how to begin the M7.1 upgrade to an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Misawa Air Base, Japan, July 13, 2017. Both aircraft maintenance unit personnel are working together to simultaneously phase the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons’ fleet into the new upgrade by Aug. 1, enabling emerging pilots to receive a finer quality of training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sonethasinh Sayasaeng, left, shows Airman 1st Class Talon Cotterman, right, both 35th Maintenance Squadron avionics technicians, how to begin the M7.1 upgrade to an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Misawa Air Base, Japan, July 13, 2017. Both aircraft maintenance unit personnel are working together to simultaneously phase the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons’ fleet into the new upgrade by Aug. 1, enabling emerging pilots to receive a finer quality of training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sonethasinh Sayasaeng, a 35th Maintenance Squadron avionics technician, installs the M7.1 upgrade to an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Misawa Air Base, Japan, July 13, 2017. The M7.1 changes the way the aircraft physically interfaces with the pilot. Multiple changes to hands on throttle and stick functionality will enable pilots to more effectively use the display while keeping their hands on the controls of the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sonethasinh Sayasaeng, a 35th Maintenance Squadron avionics technician, installs the M7.1 upgrade to an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Misawa Air Base, Japan, July 13, 2017. The M7.1 changes the way the aircraft physically interfaces with the pilot. Multiple changes to hands on throttle and stick functionality will enable pilots to more effectively use the display while keeping their hands on the controls of the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sonethasinh Sayasaeng, left, shows Airman 1st Class Talon Cotterman, right, both 35th Maintenance Squadron avionics technicians, how to install the M7.1 upgrade to an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Misawa Air Base, Japan, July 13, 2017. Misawa is receiving the M7.1, an avionics system upgrade, 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 our allies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sonethasinh Sayasaeng, left, shows Airman 1st Class Talon Cotterman, right, both 35th Maintenance Squadron avionics technicians, how to install the M7.1 upgrade to an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Misawa Air Base, Japan, July 13, 2017. Misawa is receiving the M7.1, an avionics system upgrade, 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 our allies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

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.”