U.S. F-16s tasked to destroy enemy radars, missile batteries to get the same radar-absorbing paint job of the F-35
All the U.S. “Wild Weasel” F-16s are being given a new paint job similar to the one of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
It is called “Have Glass 5th generation” as it represents the evolution of the standard Have Glass program that saw all the F-16s receiving a two-tone grey color scheme made with a special radar-absorbing paint capable to reduce the aircraft Radar Cross Section: in fact, “Vipers” are covered with RAM (Radar Absorbent Material) made of microscopic metal grains that can degrade the radar signature of the aircraft.
For the moment, the JSF-like paint job will be applied to the F-16CM (formerly CJ) Block 50 Fighting Falcon aircraft that can carry a variety of air-to-air and air-to-surface ordnance, including HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles) and precision-guided munitions.
Their role is to enter the enemy territory ahead of the strike package to take care of the enemy air defenses: radars and fixed and mobile SAM (Surface to Air Missiles) batteries.
Therefore, the units that will fly with the F-16CMs in the new color scheme will be those tasked with SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) missions: the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem (Germany), the 35th FW at Misawa (Japan), the 20th FW at Shaw Air Force Base, the 169th FW at McEntire Joint National Guard Base (SC), and 148th FW at Duluth International Airport, (MN).
Whilst two aircraft in the U.S. flew the Have Glass 4 paint job for test purposes (98-0004 and 98-0005 flying with the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron from Eglin AFB) the first aircraft spotted in the new livery is a Minnesota ANG F-16CM, 91-0391, that is currently deployed at Kandahar, Afghanistan.
The F-35 will replace the F-16CM in the SEAD role in the future.
Image credit: Antonio Muñiz Zaragüeta
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