Martin-Baker Seat Selected For New-Build Block 70 F-16s

Credit: Lockheed Martin

DUBAI—Martin-Baker’s US18E ejection seat has been selected as the pilot escape system for new-build Block 70 F-16s.

The seat, a derivative of the company’s Mk. 18 escape system, was selected by Lockheed Martin as part of an open competition.

The installation of the seat on F-16 Block 70s for Foreign Military Sales customers is the first time the UK ejection seat manufacturer has had a seat installed on the ubiquitous single-engine fighter. The seat is due to enter production in 2023. 

Four countries have signed up to purchase new-build Block 70 F-16C/Ds—Bahrain, Bulgaria, Morocco and Slovakia.

Until now, all other F-16s, apart from the prototype YF-16s, have been fitted with variants of the Collins Aerospace Advanced Concept Ejection Seat (ACES II).

Martin-Baker says the US18E seat replaces the ACES II without affecting cockpit or canopy systems and also features head and neck load protection through the use of a head support panel and neck protection device. Both systems are particularly important as more and more fighter aircraft adopt new helmet-mounted sights.

The seat also has been designed for different sized pilots including the so-called Case 1, described as the smallest pilots on an anthropometric scale.

Commenting on the selection, Steve Roberts, head of business development at Martin-Baker, said the company was “confident that the new US18E Ejection Seat offers new unprecedented life-saving capabilities” for the F-16 Block 70.

The Mk. 18 ejection seat also has been adopted for use on the indigenous Korea Aerospace Industries KF-21 Boraemae. Testing of the KF-21 seat, called the KR18A, will begin in early 2022.

Tony Osborne

Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.