India may soon acquire a supercharged F-16 specifically tailored to them by Lockheed Martin as part of an effort to match, rival or exceed Chinese air supremacy in the event of a conflict.
Called the F-21, the remodeled planes incorporate several specific-to-India technologies, according to Lockheed developers. Some of these technologies include an advanced, Northrop built APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array, Electronic Warfare systems and Triple Missile Launcher Adapters “allowing the F-21 to carry 40-percent more air-to-air weapons than previous F-16 designs.”
“The F-21 is also the only fighter in the world capable of both probe/drogue and boom aerial refueling, and it has the longest service life of any competitor—12,000 flight hours,” Lockheed spokesman John Losinger told The National Interest.
The new AESA radar, he added, nearly doubles the range of existing radar systems, enabling much more substantial detection and targeting capability. The F-21 also uses a U.S. Navy-built advanced Infrared Search and Track targeting technology. IRST is used extensively in U.S. Navy Super Hornet F-18 upgrades. Navy officials have described the IRST system is a passive, long-range sensor that searches for and detects infrared emissions. IRST is designed to simultaneously track multiple targets and provide a highly effective air-to-air targeting capability, even when encountering advanced threats equipped with radar-jamming technology, Navy developers explained.
The IRST technology was specifically engineered with a mind to the fast-changing electromagnetic warfare environment and the realization that potential future adversaries are far more likely to contest U.S. dominance in these areas.