Jan 28, 2014
F-16 Upgrade Dropped From US Budget Proposal, Sources Say
The Combat Avionics Programmed Extension Suite (CAPES) is a US Air Force program to replace the avionics and radars for 300 US F-16s. It would also upgrade 146 Taiwanese F-16A/B fighters purchased in the 1990s.
Sources said the US Air Force has decided not to fund the CAPES program, instead reinvesting some of that money toward a general F-16 service-life extension program (SLEP) while putting the rest toward modernization efforts for other platforms.
The core of CAPES is a new active electronically scanned array radar. In 2013, Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor on CAPES, selected Northrop Grumman’s Scalable Agile Beam Radar to be installed in the planes.
By moving money toward the SLEP, the Air Force would provide some cover against the F-35 joint strike fighter slipping past its December 2016 initial operating capability date. It is also possible that some of the advanced avionics could become part of the SLEP, offering a cheaper, halfway method toward modernizing the F-16s.
Without CAPES funding, Taiwan might not be able to afford the F-16 upgrade program.