Falcon Seeds

The extent to which the F-16 fleet will be upgraded under the Fiscal 2015 budget proposal is not completely clear. “We’re still looking into that,” Undersecretary Eric Fanning told defense reporters in Washington, D.C., Tuesday. “But, there will be modifications to the F-16.” These will include some work on the radar and an infrared-search-and-track system, but not as ambitious an improvement as planned in the Combat Avionics Programmed Extension Suite, or CAPES. Fanning said he would not even term the new upgrade scheme “CAPES light,” but said Air Combat Command is in the process of “prioritizing what’s most important, to include the radar; clearly a priority for the F-16.” Seed money came from some of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement relief for FY ’14, he said. Sharing the monies were “readiness, facilities modernization, . . . (and) some of these legacy modernizations, particularly for the F-16,” as well as to “push forward a little bit more” on the F-35. Trying to get production of the F-35 to 60 a year took priority “almost over everything,” he said, and forced “taking a lot of risk in fourth generation modernization.”