Europe, U.S. Eye Joint
F-16 Precision Weapons Buy
by Jim Mathews
06/09/00 02:12:07 PM U.S. EDT
The group of European nations that works with the U.S. on F-16 fighter program upgrades is studying a large, cooperative buy of precision-guided munitions, an initiative led by The Netherlands.
“The objective…is to decrease costs to participants while significantly increasing their precision strike air-to-ground capabilities,” the U.S. Defense Dept. said today.
Those participants will now include Portugal, which today joined the F-16 Multi-National Fighter Program (MNFP) organization started by Belgium, Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands and the U.S. in 1975. The group came together when F-16 exports began to pick up steam, in effect creating a working “users group” to share data, work on common upgrades and help each other support the planes and their infrastructure.
Now with the possibility of a multi-lateral PGM buy, “the U.S. sees this consortium of nations as an excellent opportunity to showcase the recently-announced defense licensing and export control reforms, which are meant to enable closer trans-Atlantic defense cooperation,” Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said at NATO headquarters in Belgium. “Since the Kosovo campaign, the U.S. has pressed its NATO allies to improve their precision strike capabilities in order to better share the responsibilities in the event of a future air operation.”
Together, the five European nations fly 548 Lockheed Martin F-16s. Worldwide, more than 3,800 F-16s serve the air forces of 19 nations.