State Dept. approves $194M upgrade deal for South Korea's F-16s

March 30 (UPI) — The State Department approved a sale of upgrades to South Korea’s F-16 fighter planes, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said on Monday.

The $194 million sale, expected to be approved by Congress, calls for South Korea to obtain Mode 5 Identification Friend or Foe equipment, known as IFF, and Link 16 Technical Datalink equipment for its F-16 Block 32 fleet.

IFF, in use since the 1940s and improved regularly, identifies and tracks military aircraft, and Mode 5 is the most recent implementation of the system. It uses waveform modulation, coding, and cryptographic techniques to quickly determine the identity and heading of an aircraft.

Link 16 is a military data link network allowing military ships and aircraft to share tactical picture of a situation in real time, and offers an offers an exchange of text messages, imagery data and two channels of digital voice transmission. Each system is currently in use by NATO countries.

The proposed deal includes the sale of radios, Combined Interrogator Transponders, a Joint Mission Planning upgrade, secure voice modules, crypto fill devices, aircraft ferry support, training, integration support and test equipment, and contractor, engineering, technical and logistics support services.

The Republic of Korea Air Force has 180 F-16s, in two variants.

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