F-16 Fighting Falcons from Kunsan Air Base and South Korean KF-16s taxi to the runway together during Exercise Buddy Wing 14-8 at Seosan Air Base, Republic of Korea Aug. 21, 2014.Flickr/US Air Force
CNN: Waiting on more F-35s, Air Force extends F-16's life
(CNN)The US Air Force has decided to extend the service life of its F-16 fighter jet from 8,000 to 12,000 flight hours, a move that will keep the multi-role combat aircraft in the skies beyond 2040 and help fill the service's short-term need for more aircraft.
While the Air Force is regularly upgrading its aircraft and extending flight hour limits, stretching the F-16's lifespan by more than 20 years reflects efforts by the Air Force and other US military branches to resolve readiness issues produced by a shrinking fleet -- and will help close the gap until the delayed fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is fully delivered.
The US military has found itself leaning heavily on a smaller and aging air fleet -- a trend that has leaders across all four armed service branches concerned about combat performance and pilot safety. Recent pilot shortages, budget cuts and delays to new platforms, like the F-35, have prompted Air Force brass to call the current flying force the "smallest, oldest and least ready" in history.
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More News On The U.S. Air Force Extending The F-16's Service Life Until 2048
Air Force extends F-16 fighter's service life -- Air Force Times
Air Force authorises extended life for F-16 -- Flight Global
U.S. Air Force to extend service life for F-16 fleet -- UPI
Pentagon Extends Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighter Shelf Life by 50% -- The Street
Fighting Falcon puts off retirement: F-16 to fly for USAF through 2048 -- Ars Technica
USAF To Keep Upgraded F-16s Till 2048 As Fate Of F-15C In Doubt -- The Drive
Lockheed Martin’s F-16C Fighting Falcon: Flying Until 2048 (Thanks to the F-35)? -- Dave Majumdar, National Interest