F-16 Fighting Falcon

TypeMultirole jet fighter
Country of originUnited States
ManufacturerGeneral Dynamics - now Lockheed Martin
First flight2 February 1974
Introduced17 August 1978
ProducedSince 1975 until present
Numbers built>4,450 units
Unit costsF-16A/B: USD14.6 million (1998 dollars)
F-16C/D: USD18.8 million (1998 dollars)
Max speedAt sea level: Mach 1.2 (915 mph, 1,470 km/h)
At altitude: Mach 2+ (1,500 mph, 2,410 km/h)
Max rangeCombat radius: 340 mi (295 nmi, 550 km) on a hi-lo-hi mission with six 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs
Ferry range: 2,280 NM (2,620 mi, 4,220 km) with drop tanks
DimensionsLength: 49 ft 5 in (15.06 m)
Wingspan: 32 ft 8 in (9.96 m)
Height: 16 ft (4.88 m)
WeightEmpty weight: 18,900 lb (8,570 kg)
Loaded weight: 26,500 lb (12,000 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 42,300 lb (19,200 kg)
PowerplantPowerplant: 1 × F110-GE-100 afterburning turbofan
Dry thrust: 17,155 lbf (76.3 kN)
Thrust with afterburner: 28,600 lbf (127 kN)
ArmamentGuns: 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61 Vulcan 6-barreled gatling cannon, 511 rounds

Hardpoints: 2× wing-tip Air-to-air missile launch rails, 6× under-wing & 3× under-fuselage pylon stations holding up to 17,000 lb (7,700 kg) of payload

Rockets:
4× LAU-61/LAU-68 rocket pods (each with 19× /7× Hydra 70 mm rockets, respectively) or
4× LAU-5003 rocket pods (each with 19× CRV7 70 mm rockets) or
4× LAU-10 rocket pods (each with 4× Zuni 127 mm rockets)

Missiles:
Air-to-air missiles:
2× AIM-7 Sparrow or
6× AIM-9 Sidewinder or
6× IRIS-T or
6× AIM-120 AMRAAM or
6× Python-4

Air-to-ground missiles:
6× AGM-45 Shrike or
6× AGM-65 Maverick or
4× AGM-88 HARM

Anti-ship missiles:
2× AGM-84 Harpoon or
4× AGM-119 Penguin

Bombs:
8× CBU-87 Combined Effects Munition
8× CBU-89 Gator mine
8× CBU-97 Sensor Fuzed Weapon
Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser capable
4× GBU-10 Paveway II
6× GBU-12 Paveway II
4× JDAM
4× Mark 84 general-purpose bombs
8× Mark 83 GP bombs
12× Mark 82 GP bombs
8× Small Diameter Bomb
3× B61 nuclear bomb

Others:
SUU-42A/A Flares/Infrared decoys dispenser pod and chaff pod or AN/ALQ-131 & AN/ALQ-184 ECM pods or
LANTIRN, Lockheed Martin Sniper XR & LITENING targeting pods or up to 3× 300/330/370 US gallon Sargent Fletcher drop tanks for ferry flight/extended range/loitering time.
OperatorsBahrain, Belgium, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, USA, Venezuela
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon was born from the experience of Vietnam War which taught the US military about the importance of air superiority in a war. The war also told about the need of improved air-to-air combat training for fighter pilots.

Then in early 1972, the Lightweight Fighter Program was proposed resulting in the born of the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon for the United States Air Force (USAF). The F-16 is a popular multirole jet fighter aircraft. There are over 4,400 units of this fighter have been built with several variants. The USAF no longer operates this powerful dogfighter but for export markets, the manufacturer keeps building the improved versions of the F-16.

Development History

Colonel John Boyd, a USAF jet fighter pilot and a military strategist, together with Thomas Christie, a mathematician, developed the Energy-Maneuverability theory to model a fighter aircraft’s performance in combat. Boyd saw the need to build a better jet fighter to ensure air superiority during a war based on his experience as a flight instructor and his service in the Korean War. The next big war in Vietnam emphasized this need.

Boyd’s theory called for a small and lightweight aircraft that could perform maneuver and reduce possible energy loss, and which also produce a built-up thrust-to-weight ratio. Years later their works had political support by the establishment of the Air Force Prototype Study Group in May 1971. Afterwards, the YF-16 prototype was developed by the General Dynamics and firstly rolled out on 13 December 1973. Its maiden flight was in California, on 2 February 1974.

Design and production

The manufacturer kept improving the YF-16 and in late 1975 the first F-16 was produced with 25% increase weight as there were some modifications of the prototypes. The first Fighting Falcon, the nick name of the F-16, serviced the USAF for the first time in October 1980. But the fighter pilots prefer to call it Viper.

The F-16 was mainly designed to be a great supersonic dogfighter and multirole tactical aircraft and to maintain superiority in the sky. This jet fighter aircraft also has a distinguish design, especially its frameless bubble canopy which gives better visibility. The F-16 implements side-mounted control stick which is believed can give easier control while maneuvering and a well-designed seat that can lessen the g-forces effect as the seat reclines 30 degree and fly-by-wire flight control that allows the F-16 becomes a highly agile fighter and can pull 9-G maneuvers.

This single-engined jet fighter can have a maximum speed of over Mach 2. Built as a multirole aircraft, the F-16 can operate several kinds of missions as the aircraft is equipped with advanced avionics and the dimension is smaller than its predecessors. The F-16 carries the M16 Vulcan cannon and has 11 hardpoints allowing it mounting several missiles and bombs such as AIM-9 Sidewinder heat-seeking short-range air-to-air missiles (AAM), the AIM-7 Sparrow and the AIM-120 AMRAAM. The Fighting Falcon is also able to carry external fuel tanks.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon was originally developed by General Dynamics but since 1993, as General Dynamics sold its aircraft manufacturing business to the Lockheed Corporation which later became Lockheed Martin, the F-16 is manufactured by the Lockheed Martin.

The variants of the F-16

Following are the variants of the F-16 Fighting Falcon:

  • F-16A – the initial production of single-seat version
  • F-16B – the initial production of two-seat version
  • F-16C/D – the production of these variants began in 1984. The F-16C is the improved version of the F-16A (single-seat) and the F-16D is the next generation of the F-16B (two-seat). Improvements were on its avionics and radar.
  • F-16E/F – carries improved avionics, radar, conformal fuel tanks and new powerful engine the GE F110-132.
  • F-16IN Super Viper –It was designed for the Indian Air Force which based on the design of the F-16E/F Block 60 added with more advanced avionics, electronic warfare suite and helmet-mounted cueing system.

The Operators of the F-16 Fighting Falcon

It is reported that no less than 25 nations become the operators of the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Bahrain, Belgium, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Republic of China (Taiwan), Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States, Venezuela are the satisfied operators of this multirole jet fighter.
Some display teams such as the USAF Thunder Birds also uses the F-16.

F-16 Fighting Falcon videos

Lockheed Martin – F-16 Fighting Falcon Ready for the Future

F-16 Attack

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