F-16 modernization. Capabilities of WZL No. 2

Photo. WZL2

Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze No. 2 S. A. is one of the largest aviation plants in Poland, belonging to an elite group of companies of strategic importance for the economy and defense of Poland. The plant has more than 75 years of experience in operating, servicing and modernizing military aircraft, including fighter and transport aircraft of significant technological advancement. The Warsaw branch of the Plant specializes in servicing jet, turbine and starter engines, as well as low power propulsion turbines.

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The company provides technical support, overhauls and upgrade of aircraft operated by the Polish Air Force such as: Su-22, MiG-29, F-16 and C-130. At the end of 2023, agreements were signed with 3RBLOG for servicing these aircraft in the years to come.

Photo. MON/X

Since the second half of the 1990s, Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze No. 2 S. A. has been specializing in aircraft upgrade in the scope of changes to avionics systems to meet NATO aviation standards, as well as modernizing avionics systems (Glass Cockpit, Mid Life Upgrade).


In the years 2011-2014, the Company carried out the original project of the “Mid Life Upgrade” type for 16 MiG-29M aircraft. The project was implemented based on solutions and in cooperation with companies such as Honeywell, IAI, or Rockwell Collins. Glass Cockpit elements, EGI laser platform with GPS with SAASM, radios with Have Quick and Saturn, modern mission computer, and video recording systems were installed and integrated, as well as flight briefing and pre-flight briefing systems were implemented. The aircraft achieved the navigation and communication capabilities required by NATO.

Photo. Jarosław Ciślak/

Between 2017 and 2023, the WZL No. 2 S. A. team modernized 14 MiG-29M aircraft into the IFF combat identification system with mode 5 – the aircraft were equipped with a system identical to the one present in F-16. The cooperation with BAE Systems allowed for realization of all the requirements of AI, which resulted in obtaining the functionality of the IFF M5 system at the level currently implemented in the F-35 aircraft.

In the years 2021-2022, the Company, together with Northrop Grumman, L3, Collins Aerospace, and Raytheon, prepared a deep upgrade of avionics for the acquired C-130H (full Glass Cockpit, MLU). WZL No. 2 S. A. has been selected as an upgrade contractor and manufacturer of mechanical and electrical components, including harnesses for the upgrade – due to the conflict in Ukraine, presently the upgrade in the field of communications and IFF Mode 5 is being carried out.

  • The upgrade in progress and completed in western technology C-130:
  • Installation of additional C-130E aircraft artificial horizon;
  • Replacement of the GTC starter engine with the APU on the C-130E aircraft;
  • Adaptation of avionics for V/UHF radios of aircraft C-130H;
  • Adaptation of avionics in the scope of IFF Mode 5 transponder.

During the implementation of the upgrades mentioned above, Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze No. 2 S. A. collected the necessary modern measuring equipment for the upgrade realization, together with communication and navigation testers, tools for production and service of electrical, high-frequency and digital data transmission systems in accordance with US TO 1-1A-14 technical documentationcompliant with MIL-STD standard, as well as trained engineering personnel to perform on a daily basis the following tasks:

  • Design of aircraft upgrade in the scope of avionics and weaponry;
  • Design of electronic devices, interfaces, panels, modern replacements for obsolete equipment for aircraft upgrade;
  • Design of electrical network, data bus and high frequency for aircraft upgrade;
  • Design of control, measurement and diagnostic equipment for aircraft upgrade and the designed equipment;
  • Development of firmware for the manufactured devices;
  • Preparation of documentation for the performance of tests and checks on the upgrade of aircraft and equipment;
  • Development of design and operational documentation for aircraft upgrade, including technical bulletins;
  • Supervision over the implementation of prototype upgrades and participation in aircraft flight tests committees, support of flight tests;
  • Conducting integration tests of the software developed for the upgrades;
  • Carrying out training of flight personnel, technical operation and WZL NO. 2 S. A. in the scope of upgrade developed and test equipment;
  • Support of sales projects, participation in trade fairs and presentation of developed products.

Due to the basic requirement of the previous MiG-29 aircraft upgrades, i.e. compatibility with F-16, the engineering team of WZL No. 2 S.A. has in-depth knowledge of systems currently present on the F-16 and installed during the upgrade of the F-16 MLU.

Photo. Sgt. Piotr Gubernat/Combat Camera

The experience gained during the implementation of the above mentioned, as well as the upgrading of avionics on C-130 aircraft during the implementation of PDM, will allow us to carry out hardware modernization and programming of avionics (MLU) on F-16 and FA-50 aircraft in the future.

Photo. Mirosław Mróz/Defence24

PDM overhauls for the C-130 carried out since 2015 resulted in the implementation of repair and production procedures in accordance with Lockheed Martin technologies in the field of airframe as well as in the manufacture of electrical systems. The plant was equipped with a full range of tools: electrical connector assembly tools, high frequency, DMC TO 1-1A-14 compliant MIL-STD-1553 data bus used on the C-130 and F-16 aircraft, as well as MRO-200 electric wire laser markers, network analyzers, etc.


In addition to that, as part of the offset programs, the Company acquired training, documentation, equipment, as well as control and measurement equipment enabling servicing of avionics, hydraulic equipment, chassis components, electrical equipment and comprehensive service of paint coatings based on modern technologies and technical equipment. At the stage of negotiations and agreements, further offset projects are being implemented, the aim of which is to increase service competence with oxygen units and in the scope of production of on-board electrical harnesses.

Also in the field of diagnostics and structural repairs of the aircraft, the Company has extensive capabilities and experience, equipment, tools and qualified personnel who have performed repairs, replacements and modifications of responsible strength elements on serviced aircraft. The work carried out as part of the extension of the capabilities of MiG-29 and Su-22 aircraft carried out in the years 2004-2018 or on C-130 aircraft during the implementation of the PDM are in many aspects identical to those that will be required to be carried out as part of the upgrade of the airframe during the MLU process implementation.

Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze No. 2 S. A. may take an active part in manufacturing of the modernization set components (wire harnesses, structural elements, etc. ). Through the implementation of service agreements for the C-130 and F-16 aircraft for the Polish Air Force and the agreement with AAR for servicing of aircraft operated by the US Air Force, the Company builds potential for the implementation of future projects such as the planned F-16 aircraft upgrade.

Photo. Cpl. Sławomir Kozioł/DGRSZ

Strengthening and preparing the area of Western engineering for the implementation of MLU works is carried out by conducting intensive English language courses, secondment of personnel to the SLEP (Service Life Extension Program), where mechanics and engineering personnel gain experience by obtaining practical training in the field of F-16 aircraft.

The plant has the necessary infrastructure in the form of service hangars for a variety of purposes with a total area of more than 13,000 m². Presently, 3 heavy services of the C-130 aircraft are being performed (4 feasible), while 20 service stations are being prepared for F-16/MiG-29 class aircraft, including at least 8 stations for the F-16 aircraft.

Photo. WZL 2

Currently, work is underway on the implementation of the European Military Airworthiness Requirements (EMAR) in accordance with the recommendations of the Military Aviation Authority. The above activities lead to the planned polonization of FA-50 aircraft, starting from 2028, the scope of which will partly coincide with the F-16 aircraft upgrade program, hence the accumulated experience and the competencies built will be directly used in the process of the FA-50 aircraft upgrade. Moreover, the operating system and the similarity in the assumptions of operation of the F-16 and FA-50 aircraft mean that starting work on the Korean aircraft will not require training personnel “from scratch”, but only supplementing the already existing knowledge.

Due to the high percentage of similarity of both types of aircraft and to facilitate later management of the Company’s resources, Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze No. 2 S. A. is ready in terms of technology, personnel and infrastructure to carry out upgrade works on F-16 aircraft within the framework of MLU.

The implementation of the MLU program on F-16 aircraft, as well as the planned polonization of FA-50 aircraft, is part of the Company’s strategy aimed at gradually moving away from Eastern technology and developing competence in the field of Western technology.

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