Code One, Volume 11, Number 1, January 1998 Page: 7
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Growth will come to MLU F-16s in many forms, includ-
ing helmet-mounted cueing systems, reconnaissance
pods, and forward-looking infrared targeting and naviga-
tion systems. "With such potential," says Evensen, "we
have to prioritize the type of development work we want to
do in the future. Night vision goggles, a helmet-mounted
display, and various pods are high priorities."
A more immediate priority for many of the European
test pilots at Leeuwarden, however, is transitioning other
F-16 pilots to the new jets. Most countries are looking at a
six-month transition course based largely on the F-16A/B
to F-16C/D upgrade course currently used in the United
States. The transition training has to be modified to accom-
modate MLU-specific capabilities. "Typically, a squadron
will become non-operational for six months," Vaerten
explains. "Pilots go through theory and simulation train-
ing. This ground-based instruction is followed by a syl-
labus of approximately forty flights, which takes them to
operational status. This syllabus may differ a little for each
"For Belgium, the last F-16 will be upgraded in 2003,"
Vaerten continues. "We are upgrading six squadrons
of aircraft, so pilot conversion won't be completed for
another four or five years. Our air-defense squadron will
be the first to convert, so they have the most immediate
interest in MLU. They want to know how the new capabil-
ities affect tactics. They're also interested in specifics, like
radar detection ranges and scramble procedures."
Any description of the MLU program can't avoid the
multinational cooperation that underpins it. The OT&E
operation at Leeuwarden could pass as a UN conference
for F-16 pilots, contractor representatives, and mainte-
nance personnel. Belgians, Danish, Dutch, Norwegians,
and Americans work together in a friendly and near
seamless atmosphere. Briefings are always in English, the
language common to all participants.
"From a logistics viewpoint, it would have been easier to
organize a testing program within a single country," notes
Koolstra. "On the other hand, working this program with
only two Dutch aircraft would have been totally unrealistic.
Thanks to the international cooperation, we have seven
aircraft dedicated to our efforts. But a successful OT&E is
not a simple matter of bringing together some aircraft,
pilots, and maintenance personnel. We have great support
from Lockheed Martin and the F-16 SPO at Wright
Patterson AFB in Ohio. We also have links with the MLU
development testing at Edwards AFB in California. We
deal with many inputs from a large number of partici-
Country differences must still be addressed in these
dealings. "The electronic warfare equipment is different
for the four nations," notes Vaerten. "Most of us come
from different experience levels and through different
training. We have operating procedures with some minor
differences that make working across air forces more dif-
ficult. Everyone here must communicate regularly with
their own air staffs back home, which takes a lot of time.
But these impediments are outweighed by the advantages.
Each country is too small to do an OT&E by itself. We can
pull this off only by combining resources. We couldn't put
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Lockheed Martin Astronautics (Firm). Code One, Volume 11, Number 1, January 1998, periodical, January 1998; Fort Worth, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth1023905/m1/9/: accessed April 18, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Fort Worth.