F-16 Fighting FalconF-16 Fighting Falcon
A USAF F-16CType Multirole fighter ManufacturerGeneral Dynamics
Lockheed MartinDesigned by Harry Hillaker Maiden flight2 February1974Introduction 17 August1978Status Active Primary users United States Air Force
25 other users (see list of operators) Number built ~4,200 Unit cost F-16A/B: US$14.6 million
F-16C/D: US$18.8 million (1998)Variants General Dynamics F-16XL
The Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon is an American multirole jet fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force. Designed as a lightweight fighter, it evolved into a successful multirole aircraft. The Falcon's versatility is a paramount reason it was a success on the export market, serving 24 countries. The F-16 is the largest Western fighter program with over 4,000 aircraft built since production started in 1976. Though no longer produced for the US Air Force, it is still produced for export. In 1993, General Dynamics sold its aircraft manufacturing business to the Lockheed Corporation, which in turn became part of Lockheed Martin after a 1995 merger with Martin Marietta.
The Fighting Falcon is a dogfighter with numerous innovations including a frameless, bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while under high g-forces, and reclined seat to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot. It was also the first fighter aircraft deliberately built to sustain 9-g turns. It has a thrust-to-weight ratio greater than one, providing enough power to climb and accelerate vertically - if necessary. Although the F-16's official name is "Fighting Falcon", it is known to its pilots as the "Viper", after the Battlestar Galactica starfighter.[verification needed]
- 1 Development
- 2 Design
- 3 Operational history
- 3.1 First combat successes: Bekaa Valley and Osiraq raid (1981)
- 3.2 Operation Peace for Galilee (1982)
- 3.3 Incidents during the Soviet-Afghan War (1986-1988)
- 3.4 Operation Desert Storm (1991)
- 3.5 Interwar Air Operations over Iraq (1991-2003)
- 3.6 Venezuelan coup attempt (1992)
- 3.7 Balkans (1994-1995 & 1999)
- 3.8 Aegean incidents (1996 & 2006)
- 3.9 Kargil War (1999)
- 3.10 Operations in Afghanistan (2001-date)
- 3.11 Invasion of Iraq & post-war operations (2003-date)
- 3.12 Second Lebanon War (2006)
- 4 Variants
- 5 Operators
- 6 Incidents
- 7 Specifications (F-16C Block 30)
- 8 Popular culture
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The U.S. Air Force and Navy both concluded during the early 1960s that the future of air combat would be determined by increasingly sophisticated missiles. As was strongly affirmed by "Project Forecast", a 1963–1964 Air Force attempt to identify future weapons trends, future fighter aircraft would be designed primarily for long range, high speed, and equipped with extremely large radar systems in order to detect and engage opposing fighters at beyond visual range (BVR). This made them much more like interceptors than classic fighter designs, and led to increasingly heavier and more technologically sophisticated designs – and thus costlier. In the early 1960s, both the Air Force and Navy expected to use the F-111 (then still in development as the TFX) and F-4 Phantom II for their long- and medium-range needs. The perception of a declining need for close-in “dogfighting” capabilities resulted in the original decision to not install internal cannons in the Phantom.
However, real-world experience in the Vietnam War revealed some shortcomings in American fighter capabilities, as early-generation Soviet-bloc jet fighters proved to be more of a challenge than expected for U.S. designs. Even though U.S. pilots had achieved favorable kill-to-loss ratios, combat had revealed that air-to-air missiles (AAM) of this era were significantly less reliable than anticipated. Furthermore, the rules of engagement in Vietnam precluded long-range missile attacks in most instances, as visual identification was normally required. Under these conditions, combat invariably closed to short ranges where maneuverability and short-range air-to-air weapons became critical, even for dedicated interceptors like the F-102 Delta Dagger.The F-16C
The need for new air superiority fighters led the USAF to initiate two concept development studies in 1965: the Fighter Experimental (FX) project originally envisioned a 60,000 lb (27,200 kg) class twin-engine design with a variable-geometry wing, and the Advanced Day Fighter (ADF), a lightweight design in the 25,000 lb (11,300 kg) class which would out-perform the MiG-21 by 25%. However, the first appearance of the Mach-3-capable MiG-25 'Foxbat' in July 1967 would result in the ADF effort being deemphasized in favor of the FX program, which would produce the F-15, a 40,000 lb (18,100 kg) class aircraft.
Based on his experiences in the Korean War and as a fighter tactics instructor, in the early 1960s Colonel John Boyd and mathematician Thomas Christie developed the Energy-Maneuverability (E-M) theory of the value of aircraft specific energy maintenance as an advantage in fighter combat. Maneuverability was the means of getting “inside” an adversary’s decision-making cycle, a process Boyd called the “OODA” loop (for “Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action”). This approach emphasized an aircraft design capable of “fast transients” –quick changes in speed, altitude, and direction. A fighter that is superior in its ability to gain or lose energy while out-turning an opponent can initiate and control any engagement opportunity; a fast transient capability allows the pilot to stay inside a hard-turning opponent when on the offensive or to force an overshoot of an opponent when on the defensive. These parameters called for a small, lightweight aircraft – which would minimize drag and increase the thrust-to-weight ratio – but a larger, higher-lift wing to minimize wing loading – which tends to reduce top speed while increasing payload, and can lower range (which can be compensated for by increased fuel in the larger wing).
Boyd’s theories helped restrain the F-15’s growth into a very large design that threatened to turn into an “F-111 Mark II”, but it strengthened his conviction that the F-15 would need to be complemented by larger numbers of smaller fighters – the “high/low mix” – as had been the case with previous twin-engine fighters. In the late 1960s he gathered around him a group of like-minded innovators that became known as the “Lightweight Fighter Mafia”. In 1969, the “Fighter Mafia” was able to secure funds for a “Study to Validate the Integration of Advanced Energy-Maneuverability Theory with Trade-Off Analysis”. General Dynamics received $149,000 and Northrop $100,000 to develop design concepts that embodied Boyd’s E-M theory – a small, low-draw, low-weight, pure fighter with no bomb racks; their work would lead to the YF-16 and YF-17, respectively.
Lightweight Fighter program
- Main article: Lightweight Fighter
Although the Air Force’s FX proponents remained hostile to the concept because they perceived it as a threat to the F-15 program, the ADP concept (revamped and renamed as the ‘F-XX’) gained civilian political support under the reform-minded Deputy Secretary of Defense David Packard, who favored the idea of competitive prototyping. As a result in May 1971, the Air Force Prototype Study Group was established, with Boyd a key member, and two of its 6 proposals would be funded, one being the Lightweight Fighter (LWF) (or Light-Weight Fighter) proposal. The Request for Proposals (RFP) issued 6 January 1972 called for a 20,000 lb (9,100 kg) class air-to-air day fighter with a good turn rate, acceleration and range, and optimized for combat at speeds of Mach 0.6–1.6 and altitudes of 30,000–40,000 ft (9,150–12,200 m). This was the region in which the USAF expected most future air combat to occur, based on studies of the Vietnam, Six-Day, and Indo-Pakistani wars. The anticipated average flyaway cost of a production version was $3 million. This production plan, though, was only notional as the USAF was under no obligation to acquire the aircraft and, in fact, had no firm plans to procure the winner, which was to be announced in May 1975.
Five companies responded and in March 1972, the Air Staff announced the winners for the follow-on prototype development and testing phase were Boeing’s Model 908-909 and General Dynamics’ Model 401; however, after further review, the Source Selection Authority (SSA) would demote Boeing’s entry to third place, after Northrop’s P-600. GD and Northrop were awarded contracts worth $37.9 million and $39.8 million to produce the YF-16 and YF-17, respectively, with first flights of both prototypes planned for early 1974. To overcome resistance in the Air Force hierarchy, the 'Fighter Mafia' and other LWF proponents successfully advocated the idea of complementary fighters in a high-cost/low-cost force mix (in part, to be able to afford sufficient fighters to sustain overall USAF fighter force structure requirements); this “high/low mix” concept would gain broad acceptance by the time of the flyoff between the prototypes, and would define the relationship of the F-15 and F-16 – and, subsequently, the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II.
The first YF-16 was rolled out on 13 December 1973, and its 90-minute-long “official” first flight was made at the Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC) at Edwards AFB, California, on 2 February 1974. Its actual first flight occurred accidentally during a high-speed taxi test on 20 January. While gathering speed, a roll-control oscillation caused a fin of the port-side wingtip-mounted missile and then the starboard stabilator to scrape the ground, and the aircraft then began to veer off the runway. The GD test pilot, Phil Oestricher, decided to lift off to avoid wrecking the machine, and safely landed it six minutes later. The slight damage was quickly repaired and the official first flight occurred on time. The YF-16’s first supersonic flight was accomplished on 5 February 1974, and the second YF-16 prototype flew for the first time on 9 May 1974. This was followed by the first flights of the Northrop’s YF-17 prototypes, which were achieved on 9 June and 21 August 1974, respectively. Altogether, the YF-16s would complete 330 sorties during the flyoff, accumulating a total of 417 flight hours; the YF-17s would accomplish 268 sorties.
Air Combat Fighter competition
Three factors would converge to turn the LWF into a serious acquisition program. First, four North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies of the U.S. – Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway – were looking to replace their F-104G fighter-bomber variants of the F-104 Starfighter interceptor; furthermore, they were seeking an aircraft that their own aerospace industries could manufacture under license, as they had the F-104G. In early 1974, they reached an agreement with the U.S. that if the USAF placed orders for the aircraft winning the LWF flyoff, they would consider ordering it as well. Secondly, while the USAF was not particularly interested in a complementary air superiority fighter, it did need to begin replacing its F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bombers. Third, the U.S. Congress was seeking to achieve greater commonality in fighter procurements by the Air Force and Navy in August 1974 redirected funds for the Navy’s VFAX program to a new Navy Air Combat Fighter (NACF) program that would essentially be a navalized fighter-bomber variant of the LWF. These requirements meshed relatively well, but the timing of the procurement was driven by the timeframe needs of the four allies, who had formed a “Multinational Fighter Program Group” (MFPG) and were pressing for a U.S. decision by December 1974. The U.S. Air Force had planned to announce the LWF winner in May 1975, but this decision was advanced to the beginning of the year, and testing was accelerated. To reflect this new, more serious intent to procure a new aircraft, along with its reorientation toward a fighter-bomber design, the LWF program was rolled into a new Air Combat Fighter (ACF) competition in an announcement by U.S. Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger in April 1974. Schlesinger also made it clear that any ACF order would be for aircraft in addition to the F-15, which essentially ended opposition to the LWF.
ACF also raised the stakes for GD and Northrop because it brought in further competitors intent on securing the lucrative order that was touted at the time as “the arms deal of the century”. These were Dassault-Breguet’s Mirage F1, the SEPECAT Jaguar, and a proposed derivative of the Saab Viggen styled the “Saab 37E Eurofighter” (which is not to be confused with the later and unrelated Eurofighter Typhoon). Northrop also offered another design, the P-530 Cobra, which looked very similar to its YF-17. The Jaguar and Cobra were dropped by the MFPG early on, leaving two European and the two U.S. LWF designs as candidates. On 11 September 1974, the U.S. Air Force confirmed firm plans to place an order for of the winning ACF design sufficient to equip five tactical fighter wings. On 13 January 1975, Secretary of the Air Force John L. McLucas announced that the YF-16 had been selected as the winner of the ACF competition.
The chief reasons given by the Secretary for the decision were the YF-16’s lower operating costs; greater range; and maneuver performance that was “significantly better” than that of the YF-17, especially at near-supersonic and supersonic speeds. The flight test program revealed that the YF-16 had superior acceleration, climb rates, endurance, and (except around Mach 0.7) turn rates. Another advantage was the fact that the YF-16 – unlike the YF-17 – employed the Pratt & Whitney F100 turbofan engine, which was the same powerplant used by the F-15; such commonality would lower the unit costs of the engines for both programs.
Shortly after selection of the YF-16, Secretary McLucas revealed that the USAF planned to order at least 650 and up to 1400 of the production version of the aircraft. The U.S. Air Force initially ordered 15 “Full-Scale Production” (FSD) aircraft (11 single-seat and 4 two-seat models) for its flight test program, but this would be reduced to 8 (6 F-16A and 2 F-16B). The Navy, however, announced on 2 May 1975, that it had decided not to buy the navalized F-16; instead, it would develop an aircraft derived from the YF-17, which would eventually become the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. Manufacture of the FSD F-16s got underway in late 1975, with the first example, an F-16A, being rolled out on 20 October 1976, followed by its first flight on 8 December. The initial two-seat model achieved its first flight on 8 August 1977. The initial production-standard F-16A flew for the first time on 7 August 1978 and its delivery was accepted by the USAF on 6 January 1979. The F-16 was given its formal nickname of “Fighting Falcon” on 21 July 1980, and it entered USAF operational service with the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) at Hill AFB on 1 October 1980.
On 7 June 1975, the four European partners, now known as the European Participation Group (EPG), signed up for 348 aircraft at the Paris Air Show. This was split among the European Participation Air Forces (EPAF) as 116 for Belgium, 58 for Denmark, 102 for the Netherlands, and 72 for Norway. These would be produced on two European production lines, one in the Netherlands at Fokker’s Schiphol-Oost facility and the other at SABCA’s Gossellies plant in Belgium; production would be divided among them as 184 and 164, respectively. European co-production was officially launched on 1 July 1977 at the Fokker factory. Beginning in mid-November 1977, Fokker-produced components were shipped to Fort Worth, Texas, for assembly of fuselages, which were in turn shipped back to Europe (initially to Gossellies starting in January 1978); final assembly of EPAF-bound aircraft began at the Belgian plant on 15 February 1978, with deliveries to the Belgian Air Force beginning in January 1979. The Dutch line started up in April 1978 and delivered its first aircraft to the Royal Netherlands Air Force in June 1979. In 1980 the first aircraft were delivered to the Royal Norwegian Air Force by SABCA and to the Royal Danish Air Force by Fokker.
After selection, the YF-16 design was altered for the production F-16. The fuselage was lengthened 10 in (0.254 m), wing and horizontal stablizer areas were increased slightly and two hardpoints were added.
During flight testing, it became apparent that a deep stall could occur under certain flight conditions. This issue was partially corrected by increasing the size of the horizontal tail by 25%. However deep stall conditions can and still do effect the F-16. Pilots must be careful to recognize how and when deep stalls can happen to avoid them and when they happen how to correct the condition.
The F-16 is scheduled to remain in service with the U.S. Air Force until 2025. The planned replacement is the F-35 Lightning II, which is scheduled to enter service in 2011 and will gradually begin replacing a number of multirole aircraft among the air forces of the program's member nations.Please help improve this sectionby expanding it
with: add more on development from 1975 to present (variants).
Further information might be found on the talk pageor at requests for expansion.
DesignF-16CJ Fighting Falcon with air-to-air and SEAD load.
The F-16 is a single-engined, multi-role tactical aircraft. It is equipped with an M61 Vulcan cannon in the left wing root, and is almost always armed with two AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, one on each wingtip on a dedicated rail. More recent versions can be equipped with the AIM-120 AMRAAM on these rails instead. It can also be armed with a wide variety of air-to-air missiles and air-to-ground missiles, rockets or bombs, carried on a number of hardpoints under the wings.
From the very beginning, the F-16 was intended to be a cost-effective "workhorse" that could perform various kinds of missions and maintain around-the-clock readiness. It is much simpler and lighter than its predecessors, but uses advanced aerodynamics and avionics, including the first use of fly-by-wire (earning it the nickname of "the electric jet"), to maintain good performance. The F-16 can reach a maximum speed of Mach 2.
Cockpit and ergonomics
The pilot sits high in the fuselage with the canopy support-bow behind them, out of their field of view. This and the bubble canopy give the pilot an unobstructed field of view, a feature vital during air-to-air combat. The seat is reclined 30 degrees. The control stick is a side-stick mounted on the right armrest rather than a traditional center stick. In addition, a Heads-Up Display (HUD) displays vital information in the pilot's field of view. From Block 52 onwards, the cockpit also uses the Boeing Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), which was deployed operationally during Operation Iraqi Freedom, although there are no plans to upgrade earlier block variants.F-16C MLU cockpit.
It is worth noting that many of the cockpit features innovated in the F-16 have been used on newer aircraft designs. The F-22 uses a single-piece canopy like the F-16, although the F-35 and Eurofighter Typhoon do not. The F-16 canopy is thicker than in most aircraft, where only the portion between the cockpit frame and nose have to be thick enough to guard against bird strikes. The F-16's canopy is approximately one half inch thick, and as a result is quite heavy. In older fighter jet designs ejection seat angles have normally been less than the F-16, at around 15 degrees, with the exceptions of the F-22 and F-35, which have seats tilted at 20 degrees. The increased angle of tilt on the F-16 seat in theory allows for greater protection from g and reduced incidence of gravity-induced loss of conciousness (G-LOC). The increased seat angle however, been also associated with reports of increased risk of neck ache, although this has been mitigated by the use of a head-rest.
Negative static stability
An aircraft with negative static stability will, in the absence of control input, depart from level and controlled flight. Most aircraft are designed with positive static stability, where an aircraft tends to return to its original attitude following a disturbance. However, positive static stability hampers maneuverability, as the tendency to remain in its current attitude opposes the pilot's effort to maneuver; therefore, an aircraft with negative static stability will be more maneuverable.
The YF-16 was the world's first aircraft to be slightly aerodynamically unstable by design. This feature is officially called "relaxed static stability." When supersonic, the aircraft exhibits positive static stability due to aerodynamic forces shifting aft between subsonic and supersonic flight. At subsonic speeds, however, the fighter is constantly on the verge of going out of control.F-16 taxiing at JeffCo airport
To counter this tendency to depart from controlled flight, the F-16 uses a fly-by-wire flight control system (FLCS), with no mechanical linkages between the stick and rudder pedals and the aerodynamic control surfaces. The flight control computer (FLCC), which is the key component of the FLCS, takes thousands of measurements per second of the aircraft's attitude, and makes corrections to counter deviations from the flight path that were not input by the pilot, allowing for stable flight. This led to a common refrain heard from pilots: "You don't fly an F-16; it flies you".
The FLCC also accepts the pilot's input from the stick and rudder controls, and manipulates the control surfaces in such a way as to produce the desired result without inducing a loss of control (known as "departing" controlled flight). The FLCC incorporates a series of limiters that govern movement in the three main axes (pitch, roll and yaw) based on the jet's current attitude, airspeed and angle of attack, and prevent movement of the control surfaces that would induce an instability such as a slip or skid, or a high angle of attack inducing a stall. The limiters also act to prevent maneuvering that would place more than 9 gs of force on the pilot or airframe.
The lack of mechanical linkages between the control stick and the flight surfaces led to an unusual characteristic in the design of the control stick: originally, it did not move. The control stick instead detected pressure applied by the pilot and translated that pressure into control of the aircraft. This arrangement proved uncomfortable and difficult for pilots to adjust to, often resulting in "over-rotating" the aircraft during takeoffs, so the control stick was given a small amount (less than a quarter of an inch (6 mm) in any direction) of play.F-16CG Fighting Falcon at Paris Air Show 2007.
Wing and strake configuration
Aerodynamic studies in the early 1960s demonstrated that the phenomenon known as “vortex lift” could be beneficially harnessed by the utilization of highly swept wing configurations, such as found in the Concorde supersonic aircraft and the Swedish Viggen canard configured aircraft. These favorable effects affected the aircraft’s lift capability and allowed the close-coupled wing to be extended to create higher angles of attack through use of a strong leading-edge vortex flow of a slender lifting surface. The leading edge of the wing’s blended forebody would thus increase the strength of the vortices and give the aircraft additional lift.
The exploitation of this aerodynamic phenomenon shaped the design of the F-16, which boasts cropped delta wings and long wing-body strakes, and is considered to be one of the significant elements responsible for its enduring success as a highly maneuverable fighter.
- F-16A/B: US$14.6 million (1992)
- F-16C/D: US$18.8 million (1998)
- F-16E/F: US$26.9 million (2005)
- F-16I: ~US$70 million (2006)
Operational historyIAF F-16A Netz with 6.5 aerial victory marks and Osirak bombing mark A USAF Air National Guard F-16 pilot illuminated by the green glow of the MFD cockpit displays A U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds pilot ejects from his F-16 at an air show in September 2003
Due to their ubiquity, F-16s have participated in numerous conflicts, most of them in the Middle East.
First combat successes: Bekaa Valley and Osiraq raid (1981)
The F-16’s first air-to-air combat success was achieved over the Bekaa Valley on 28 April 1981 against a Syrian Mi-8 helicopter, which was downed with cannon fire following an unsuccessful attempt with an AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile (AAM). Its first "kill" of another fighter was made a year later on 9 June 1982, during the initial air battle of the 1982 Lebanon War, with a successful AAM shoot-down of a Syrian MiG-21.
On 7 June 1981, eight Israeli F-16s, escorted by F-15s, executed Operation Opera, their first employment in a significant air-to-ground operation. This raid severely damaged Osiraq, an Iraqi nuclear reactor under construction near Baghdad, to prevent the regime of Saddam Hussein from using the reactor for the creation of nuclear weapons.
Operation Peace for Galilee (1982)
- Main article: Operation Peace for Galilee
The following year, during Operation Peace for Galilee (Lebanon War) Israeli F-16s engaged Syrian aircraft in one of the largest air battles involving jet aircraft, which began on 9 June and continued for two more days. At the end of the conflict, the Israeli Air Force credited their F-16s with 44 air-to-air kills, mostly of MiG-21s and MiG-23s, and claim no air-to-air losses of their own. F-16s were also used in their ground-attack role for strikes against targets in Lebanon.
Incidents during the Soviet-Afghan War (1986-1988)
- Main article: Soviet-Afghan War
During the Soviet-Afghan war, Pakistan Air Force F-16s shot down at least 10 Afghan and Soviet ground attack and transport aircraft operating in Pakistani airspace between May 1986 and December 1988.
Operation Desert Storm (1991)
- Main article: Operation Desert Storm
In Operation Desert Storm of 1991, 249 USAF F-16s flew 13,340 sorties in strikes against Iraq, the most of any Coalition aircraft, with five lost in combat, of which two were due to accidents and three to hostile surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). Other F-16s were damaged by hostile ground fire but were able to return to base and be repaired.
Interwar Air Operations over Iraq (1991-2003)
From the end of Desert Storm until the invasion of Iraq in 2003, USAF F-16s patrolled the Iraqi no-fly zones. Two air-to-air victories were scored by USAF F-16s in Operation Southern Watch. On 27 December 1992, a USAF F-16D shot down an Iraqi MiG-25 in UN-restricted airspace over southern Iraq with an AIM-120 AMRAAM; this was the first USAF F-16 kill since the F-16 was introduced; and was also the first AMRAAM kill. On 17 January 1993, a USAF F-16C destroyed an Iraqi MiG-23 with an AMRAAM missile for the second USAF F-16 victory.
Venezuelan coup attempt (1992)
- Main article: Venezuelan coup attempts of 1992
On 27 November 1992, two Venezuelan F-16s took part in the November Venezuelan Coup Attempt on the side of the government. In particular, the two F-16As strafed targets on the ground and shot down two OV-10 Broncos with AIM-9Ps and one AT-27 Tucano with cannon fire as these rebel-flown aircraft attacked loyalist army positions.
Balkans (1994-1995 & 1999)
F-16s were also employed by NATO during Bosnian peacekeeping operations in 1994-95 in ground-attack missions and enforcing the no-fly-zone over Bosnia (Operation Deny Flight). On 28 February 1994, 4 J-21 and 2 IJ-21 Jastrebs and 2 J-22 Oraos had violated the no-fly-zone to conduct a bombing run. The pilots of the 2 J-22s spotted the F-16s above them and after their attack, they left the area in low-level flight towards Croatia, where the U.S. jets could not follow; one of these later crashed due to lack of fuel. Meanwhile, the rest of the group was engaged and attacked, first by 2 USAF F-16Cs, which scored three kills. The remaining J-21 was taken out by a different pair of USAF F-16Cs. Of the 6 Yugoslavian jets engaged, 4 were shot down (one by AMRAAM and the others by Sidewinders). On 2 June 1995, one F-16C was lost to a Serb 2K12 Kub SAM (NATO reporting name: SA-6 'Gainful') while on patrol over Bosnia. Its pilot ejected and was later rescued by a USMC CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter on 8 June.
NATO F-16s also participated in air strikes against Serbian forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina during Operation Deliberate Force in August-September 1995, and again in Operation Allied Force over Yugoslavia from March-June 1999. During Allied Force, F-16s also achieved one or two aerial victories: one by a Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16AM, which shot down a Yugoslavian MiG-29 with an AMRAAM, and possibly another by a USAF F-16C which fired two AMRAAMs at a Yugoslavian MiG-29. However, in the latter case, the Serbs claimed to have subsequently found fragments of a 9K32M Strela-2M NATO designation: SA-7b ‘Grail’ Mod 1) MANPAD in the wreckage of this MiG-29, suggesting it was mistakenly downed by Serbian infantry.
On 2 May 1999, a USAF F-16CG was lost over Serbia. It was shot down by an S-125 Pechora SAM (NATO: SA-3 ‘Goa’) near Nakucani. Its pilot managed to eject and was later rescued by a combat search-and-rescue (CSAR) mission. The remains of this aircraft are on display in the Yugoslav Aeronautical Museum, Belgrade International Airport.
Aegean incidents (1996 & 2006)
On 10 October 1996, during an air-to-air confrontation in disputed airspace over the Aegean Sea, a Greek Mirage 2000 is reported to have accidentally fired an R550 Magic and shot down a Turkish F-16D, which the Turkish government claims was on a training mission in international air space north of the Greek island of Samos, close to the Turkish mainland. The Turkish pilot died, while the co-pilot ejected and was rescued by Greek forces. The Greek government officially denies the shootdown occurred.
On 23 May 2006, two Greek F-16 Block 52+ jets were scrambled to intercept a Turkish RF-4 reconnaissance aircraft (which was escorted by two F-16s) off the coast of the island of Karpathos. During the intercept two F-16s collided, and while the Turkish pilot ejected after his jet was destroyed, the Greek pilot was killed when his canopy and cockpit were destroyed during the collision.
Kargil War (1999)
- Main article: Kargil War
During the 1999 Kargil War, Indian Air Force MiG-29s provided fighter escort for Mirage 2000s dropping laser-guided bombs (LGBs) on enemy targets. On occasions, IAF MiG-29s armed with Vympel R-77 (NATO: AA-12 ‘Archer’) beyond-visual-range (BVR) air-to-air missiles were able to lock on to PAF F-16s, forcing the latter to disengage, as at the time Pakistan F-16 aircraft were not equipped with BVR missiles. As a result, the PAF restricted itself to flying combat air patrols over Pakistani territory, and in the absence of a threat from PAF interceptors, the IAF was able to deliver unimpeded strikes on Pakistani positions and supply dumps.
Operations in Afghanistan (2001-date)
- Main article: Operation Enduring Freedom
F-16s have been used by the United States in Afghanistan since 2001. In 2002, a tri-national detachment known as the European Participating Air Forces (Danish, Dutch and Norwegian) of 18 F-16s in the ground attack role deployed to Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan to support Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Since April 2005, eight Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s, joined by four Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s in February 2006, have been supporting International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) ground troops the southern provinces of Afghanistan. The detachment is known as the 1st Netherlands-Norwegian European Participating Forces Expeditionary Air Wing (1 NLD/NOR EEAW).
Invasion of Iraq & post-war operations (2003-date)
- Main article: 2003 invasion of Iraq
A US Army MIM-104 Patriot SAM fire-control radar was damaged on 25 March 2003 following a hit by an AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missile (ARM) fired from an USAF F-16C on a patrol over southern Iraq, when the radar established a lock-on on the fighter.
On June 7, 2006, two USAF F-16s dropped two 500 lb guided bombs (one GBU-12 Paveway LGB and one GBU-38 GPS-guided “smart” bomb) destroying an al-Qaeda safehouse, killing Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
An F-16CJ crashed near Fallujah on 27 November 2006 while on a low-altitude ground-strafing run; although under fire, according to the official USAF report, the apparent cause was due to flying into the ground while attempting to maintain visual identification of targeted enemy vehicles. The pilot, Major Troy Gilbert, was killed.
Second Lebanon War (2006)
- Main article: 2006 Lebanon War
Israeli F-16s, the bomber workhorse of the Israel Defense Forces, participated in the 2006 Lebanon War. The only reported F-16 loss was an IDF F-16I that crashed on July 19 when one of its tires burst as it took off for Lebanon from an air base in the Negev. The pilots ejected safely and there were no casualties on the ground.
F-16 models are denoted by sequential block numbers to denote significant upgrades. The blocks cover both single- and two-seat versions. A variety of software, hardware, systems, weapons carriage, and structural enhancements have been instituted over the years to gradually upgrade the F-16 and retroactively implement the upgrades in previously delivered aircraft.
Main production variants
The F-16A (single seat) and F-16B (two seat) were initially equipped with the Westinghouse AN/APG-66 pulse-doppler radar, Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-200 turbofan, rated at 14,670 lbf (64.9 kN) and 23,830 lbf (106.0 kN) with afterburner. The USAF bought 674 F-16As and 121 F-16Bs, with delivery completed in March 1985.
- Block 1
- Early blocks (Block 1/5/10) featured relatively minor differences between each. Most were later upgraded to the Block 10 configuration in the early 1980s. There were 94 Block 1, 197 Block 5, and 312 Block 10 aircraft produced. Block 1 is the early production model with the nose cone painted black.
- Block 5
- It was discovered that the Block 1 aircraft’s black nose cone became an obvious visual identification cue at long range, so the color of the nose cone was changed to the low-visibility grey for Block 5 aircraft. During the operation of F-16 Block 1, it was discovered that rain water could accumulate in certain spots within the fuselage, so drainage holes were drilled in the forward fuselage and tail fin area for Block 5 aircraft.
- Block 10
- The Soviet Union significantly reduced the export of titanium during the late 1970s, so the manufacturers of the F-16 used aluminum instead wherever practical. New methods were also used: the corrugated aluminum is bolted to the epoxy surface for Block 10 aircraft, replacing the old method of aluminum honeycomb being glued to the epoxy surface used in earlier aircraft.
- Block 15
- The first major change in the F-16, the Block 15 aircraft featured larger horizontal stabilizers, the addition of two hardpoints to the chin inlet, an improved AN/APG-66(V)2 radar, and increased capacity for the underwing hardpoints. The Block 15 also gained the Have Quick II secure UHF radio. To counter the additional weight of the new hardpoints, the horizontal stabilizers were enlarged by 30%. Block 15 is the most numerous variant of the F-16, with 983 produced. The last one was delivered in 1996 to Thailand.
- Block 15 OCU
- From 1987 Block 15 aircraft were delivered to the Operational Capability Upgrade (OCU) standard, which featured improved F100-PW-220 turbofans with digital control interface, the ability to fire the AGM-65 Maverick, AIM-120 AMRAAM, and AGM-119 Penguin missiles, countermeasures and cockpit upgrades, and improved computers and data bus. Its maximum takeoff weight increased to 37,500 lb (17,000 kg). A total of 214 aircraft were produced with this upgrade, as well as some Block 10 aircraft, retroactively.
- F-16 ADF
- The F-16 Air Defense Fighter (ADF) was a special variant of the Block 15 optimized for the United States Air National Guard's fighter interception mission. Begun in 1989, 270 airframes were modified. Avionics were upgraded (including the addition of an Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) interrogator with "bird-slicing" IFF antennas), and a spotlight fitted forward and below the cockpit, for night-time identification. This was the only US version equipped with the AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missile. Beginning in 1994, these aircraft began to be replaced by newer F-16C variants. By 2005 only the North Dakota ANG was flying this variant.
- Block 20
- The Republic of China (Taiwan) received 150 F-16A/B Block 15 OCU-standard aircraft with the further addition of most of the F-16C/D Block 50/52 capability: Improved AN/APG-66(V)3 radar, carriage of AGM-45 Shrike, AGM-84 Harpoon, and AGM-88 HARM missiles, as well as the LANTIRN navigation and targeting pod. The computers onboard Block 20 are significantly improved in comparison to that of the earlier versions, with the overall processing speed increased 740 times and the overall memory storage increased 180 times in comparison to that of Block 15 OCU.
F-16C (single seat) and F-16D (two seat).
- Block 25
- The Block 25 F-16C first flew in June 1984 and entered USAF service in September. The aircraft are fitted with the Westinghouse AN/APG-68 radar and have improved precision night-attack capability. Block 25 introduced a very substantial improvement in cockpit avionics, including improved fire-control and stores management computers, an Up-Front Controls (UFC) integrated data control panel, data-transfer equipment, multifunction displays, radar altimeter, and many other changes. Block 25’s were first delivered with the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-200 engine and later upgraded to the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220E. With 209 models delivered, today the USAF’s Air National Guard and Air Education and Training Command are the only remaining users of this variant. One F-16C, nicknamed the Lethal Lady, has flown over 7,000 hours so far.
- Block 30/32
- This was the first block of F-16s affected by the Alternative Fighter Engine project under which aircraft were fitted with the traditional Pratt & Whitney engines or, for the first time, the General Electric F110-GE-100. From this point on, blocks ending in '0' (e.g., Block 30) are powered by GE, and blocks ending in '2' (e.g., Block 32) are fitted with Pratt & Whitney engines.
- The first Block 30 F-16 entered service in 1987. Major differences include the carriage of the AGM-45 Shrike, AGM-88 HARM, and the AIM-120 missiles. From Block 30D, aircraft were fitted with larger engine air intakes (called a Modular Common Inlet Duct) for the increased-thrust GE engine. Since the Block 32 retained the Pratt and Whitney F-100 engine, the smaller (normal shock inlet) was retained for those aircraft. A total of 733 aircraft were produced and delivered to six countries. The Block 32H/J aircraft assigned to the USAF Thunderbird flight demonstration squadron were built in 1986 and 1987 and are some of the oldest operational F-16's in the Air Force. The Air National Guard procured many upgrades for their fleet of aging block 30/32's including the addition of improved inertial guidance systems, improved electronic warfare suite (ALQ-213), and upgrades to carry the Northrop Grumman LITENING targeting pod. The standard Inertial Navigation Unit (INU) was first changed to a ring laser gyro, and later upgraded again to an Embedded GPS/INS (EGI) system which combines a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver with an Inertial Navigation System (INS). The EGI provided the capability to use Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and other GPS-aided munitions (see Block 50 list below). This capability, in combination with the LITENING targeting pod, greatly enhanced the capabilities of this aircraft. The sum of these modifications to the baseline Block 30 is commonly known as the F-16C++ (pronounced 'plus plus') version.
- The U.S. Navy acquired 22 modified Block 30 F-16s for use as adversary assets for dissimilar air combat training (DACT); four of these were TF-16N two-seaters. These aircraft were delivered in 1987-1988. VF-126 and the Navy Fighter Weapons School (NFWS) (or TOPGUN) operated them at NAS Miramar on the West Coast; East Coast adversary training squadrons were VF-43 at NAS Oceana and VF-45 at NAS Key West. Each squadron had five F-16N and one TF-16N, with the exception of TOPGUN which had six and one, respectively. Due to the high stress of constant combat training, the wings of these aircraft began to crack and the Navy announced their retirement in 1994, and the last had been sent to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARC) for disposal by 1995. As adversary aircraft they were notable for their colorful appearance. Most Navy F-16N aircraft were painted in a three-tone blue and gray "ghost" scheme. TOPGUN had some of the more colorful ones: a three-color desert scheme, a light blue one and a green splinter camouflage version with Marine Corps markings. VF-126 also had a unique blue example.
- In 2002 the Navy began to receive 14 F-16A and B models from AMARC that were originally intended for Pakistan before being embargoed. These aircraft (which are not designated F/TF-16N) are operated by the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) N7 (TOPGUN) for adversary training and like their F-16N predecessors are painted in exotic schemes.
- Block 40/42 (F-16CG/DG)
- Entering service in 1988, the Block 40/42 is the improved all-day/all-weather strike variant equipped with LANTIRN pod; also unofficially designated the F-16CG/DG, the night capability gave rise to the name "Night Falcons". This block features strengthened and lengthened undercarriage for LANTIRN pods, an improved radar, and a GPS receiver. From 2002, the Block 40/42 increased the weapon range available to the aircraft including JDAM, AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW), Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD) and the (Enhanced) EGBU-27 Paveway “bunker-buster”. Also incorporated in this block was the addition of cockpit lighting systems compatible with Aviator's Night Vision Imaging System (ANVIS) equipment. The USAF’s Time Compliance Technical Order (TCTO) that added the night vision (NVIS)-compatible systems was completed in 2004. A total of 615 Block 40/42 aircraft were delivered to 5 countries.
- Block 50/52
- The first Block 50/52 F-16 was delivered in late 1991; the aircraft are equipped with improved GPS/INS, and the aircraft can carry a further batch of advanced missiles: the AGM-88 HARM missile, JDAM, JSOW and WCMD. Block 50 aircraft are powered by the F110-GE-129 while the Block 52 jets use the F100-PW-229. From Block 52 onwards, the cockpit also uses the Boeing Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS).
- F-16CJ/DJ Block 50D/52D
- An unknown number of Block 50/52 aircraft have been delivered to the USAF modified to perform the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) mission, replacing the F-4G ‘Wild Weasel’ aircraft; these were unofficially designated F-16CJ/DJ. Capable of launching both the AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) and AGM-45 Shrike anti-radiation missiles, the F-16CJ/DJ are equipped with a Lockheed Martin AN/AAS-35V Pave Penny laser spot tracker and the Texas Instruments AN/ASQ-213 HARM Targeting System (HTS), with the HTS pod being mounted on the starboard intake hardpoint. The first F-16CJ (serial number 91-0360) was delivered on 7 May 1993.
- Block 50/52 Plus (or 50/52+)
- This variant was first delivered in April 2003 to the Hellenic Air Force. Its main differences are the addition of conformal fuel tanks (CFTs), APG-68(V9) radar, On-Board Oxygen Generation (OBOGS) system and JHMCS helmet; the Greek Block 52+ aircraft also employ the IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missile. All two-seat "Plus" aircraft have the enlarged Avionics Dorsal Spine, which adds 30 cu ft (850 L) to the airframe for more avionics with only small increases in weight and drag. This version is the foundation of F-16E/F Block 60. The first 60 Greek Hellenic Air Force aircraft were operational as of 2004, with a delivery of another 30 ‘Block 52+ Advanced’ pending for 2009.
- The Block 52+ was also ordered by the Polish Air Force. These aircraft are fitted with the latest avionics (including the ALE-50 Towed Decoy System) and provisions for CFTs. On 9 November 2006, it was unveiled that the Polish F-16s will be named Jastrząb (Hawk). Limited operational readiness will be achieved in 2008 and the final Polish F-16 should be delivered by the end of that year. The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) also ordered the two-seat version of the Block 52+. Singapore's most recent order consists of an aircraft model rumored to be the exact configuration as Israel’s F-16I (see entry below), but re-designated to avoid sensitivity. The latest D+ models ordered by the RSAF can be noted to have the same antennas, sensor locations, and cockpit configurations as that of the F-16I. These fighters are also fitted with DASH-3 helmet-mounted sighting system, 600-gallon tanks, CFTs, AMRAAM, HARM, and laser-guided weapons, fully-configured for long-range strike. The Pakistan Air Force ordered 18 Block 52+ F-16s with an option for 18 more as part of a $5.1 billion arms package. Pakistani F-16s will be equipped with AIM-120C-5 AMRAAM, AIM-9M-8/9, JDAM, Harpoon Block II, JHMCS, CFTs, and possibly IRIS-T missiles.
- Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) built 140 advanced derivatives of the F-16C/D Block 52 under license from Lockheed Martin in the 1990s. The F/A-18 Hornet had originally won the Korea Fighter Program (KFP) competition, but disputes over costs and accusations of bribery led the Korean government to withdraw the award and select the F-16 instead. Designated the KF-16 (which is also sometimes mistakenly applied to the earlier batch of F-16 Block 32 bought by South Korea), the first 12 aircraft were delivered to Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) in December 1994. Almost 2,500 parts are changed from the original F-16C/D. All KF-16 are capable of launching the AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile.
- F-16I Sufa
- The F-16I is a variant of the Block 50/52 Plus developed for the Israeli Defense Force – Air Force (IDF/AF). Israel issued a requirement in September 1997 and selected the F-16 in preference to the F-15 in July 1999. An initial "Peace Marble V" contract was signed on 14 January 2000 with a follow on contract signed on 19 December 2001 for a total procurement of 102 aircraft.
- The F-16I is called Sufa (Storm) by the IDF/AF. Its most notable difference from the standard Block 50+ is that approximately 50% of the American avionics have been replaced by Israeli-developed avionics (such as the Israeli Aerial Towed Decoy replacing the ALE-50). The addition of Israeli-built autonomous aerial combat maneuvering instrumentation systems enables the training exercises to be conducted without dependence on ground instrumentation systems, and the helmet-mounted sight is also standard equipment. The F-16I also has the IAI-built removable conformal fuel tanks added. The aircraft use the F100-PW-229 engine which offers commonality with the IDF/AF's F-15Is. The first flight of the F-16I occurred on 23 December 2003, followed by first delivery to the IDF/AF on 19 February 2004.
F-16E (single seat) and F-16F (two seat). Originally, the single-seat version of the General Dynamics F-16XL was to have been designated F-16E, with the twin-seat variant designated F-16F. This was sidelined by the Air Force's selection of the competing F-15E Strike Eagle in the Enhanced Tactical Fighter fly-off in 1984. The 'Block 60' designation had also previously been set aside in 1989 for the A-16, but this model was dropped. The F-16E/F designation now belongs to a special version developed especially for the United Arab Emirates, and is sometimes unofficially called the "Desert Falcon".United Arab Emirates F-16 Block 60 taking off after taxiing out of the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth, TX (NAS Fort Worth JRB)
- Block 60
- Based on the F-16C/D Block 50/52, it features improved radar and avionics and conformal fuel tanks; it has only been sold to the United Arab Emirates. At one time, this version was incorrectly thought to have been designated ‘F-16U’. A major difference from previous blocks is the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, which gives the airplane the capability to simultaneously track and destroy ground and air threats. The Block 60’s General Electric F110-GE-132 is a development of the -129 model and is rated at 32,500 lbf (144 kN). The Block 60 allows the carriage of all Block 50/52-compatible weaponry as well as AIM-132 Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) and the AGM-84E Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM). The CFTs provide an additional 450 US gallon (2,045 L) of fuel, allowing increased range or time on station. This has the added benefit of freeing up hardpoints for weapons that otherwise would have been occupied by underwing fuel tanks. The MIL-STD-1553 data bus is replaced by MIL-STD-1773 fiber-optic data bus which offers a 1000 times increase in data-handling capability.
Technology demonstrators and other variants
- Two single-seat YF-16 prototypes were built for the Light Weight Fighter (LWF) competition. The first YF-16 was rolled out at Fort Worth on 13 December 1973 and accidentally accomplished its first flight on 21 January 1974, followed by its scheduled “first flight” on 2 February 1974. The second prototype first flew on 9 March 1974. Both YF-16 prototypes participated in the flyoff against Northrop’s YF-17 prototypes, with the F-16 winning the Air Combat Fighter (ACF) competition, as the LWF program had been renamed.
- F-16 FSD
- In January 1975, the Air Force order eight full-scale development (FSD) F-16s – six single-seat F-16A and a pair of two-seat F-16B – for test and evaluation. The first FSD F-16A flew on 8 December 1976 and the first FSD F-16B on 8 August 1977. Over the years, these aircraft have been used as test demonstrators for a variety of research, development and modification study programs.
- LTV Aerospace Model 1600/1601/1602
- Following the YF-16’s victory over the Northrop YF-17 for the U.S. Air Force’s ACF competition, General Dynamics decided a “navalized” variant could also best it in the Navy’s revived Naval Fighter Attack Experimental (VFAX) program. Having no carrier aircraft experience, GD teamed up with LTV Aerospace, which had designed the successful carrier-capable F-8 Crusader and A-7 Corsair II for the Navy; if successful, LTV would have produced the carrier version of the F-16.
- LTV created three concepts for the navalized F-16. The main proposal was the Model 1600, which was based on the Block 10 F-16. It featured structural strengthening, an arrestor hook, and a more robust undercarriage to accommodate the rigors of carrier launch and recovery operations. The Model 1600 employed the General Electric F404 (which would be selected for the F/A-18), but two other powerplant choices were also explored. The Model 1601 had an improved Pratt & Whitney F100, while the Model 1602 used the General Electric F101. However, the Navy preferred a twin-engine aircraft, and on 2 May 1975 it selected the Northrop-McDonnell Douglas YF-17-based F/A-18 Hornet proposal.
- YF-16 CCV
- The initial YF-16 prototype was reconfigured in December 1975 to serve as the USAF Flight Dynamics Laboratory's Control-Configured Vehicle (CCV) testbed. The CCV concept entails “decoupling” the aircraft’s flight control surfaces so that they can operate independently. This approach enables unusual maneuvers such as being able to turn the airplane without banking it. The ability to maneuver in one plane without simultaneously moving in another was seen as offering novel tactical performance capabilities for a fighter. The CCV YF-16 design featured twin pivoting ventral fins mounted vertically underneath the air intake, and its triply redundant FBW flight control system was modified to permit use of flaperons on the wings’ trailing edges which would act in combination with an all-moving stabilator. The fuel system was redesigned to enable adjustment of the aircraft’s center of gravity by transferring fuel from one tank to another. The CCV aircraft achieved its first flight on 16 March 1976. The flight test program ran until 31 June 1977, and was marred only by a hard landing on 24 June 1976 that delayed testing until repairs were effected. The CCV program was judged successful, and led to a more ambitious follow-on effort in the form of the "Advanced Fighter Technology Integration" (AFTI) F-16.
- F-16 SFW
- General Dynamics was one of several U.S. aircraft makers awarded a contract by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 1976 to develop proposals for an experimental forward-swept wing test aircraft. GD’s entry, the Swept Forward Wing (SFW) F-16, had a slightly lengthened fuselage to accommodate the larger, advanced composites wing. In January 1981, DARPA selected Grumman’s entry, which became known as the X-29A. Although the SFW F-16 was not chosen, the X-29 incorporated some of the F-16’s features, particularly its fly-by-wire flight control system and its undercarriage.
- In response to President Jimmy Carter's February 1977 directive to curtail arms proliferation by selling only reduced-capability weapons to foreign countries, General Dynamics developed a modified export-oriented version of the F-16A/B designed for use with the outdated General Electric J79 turbojet engine. Northrop competed for this market with its F-20 Tigershark. Accommodating the J79-GE-119 engine required modification of the F-16’s inlet, the addition of steel heat shielding, a transfer gearbox (to connect the engine to the existing F-16 gearbox), and an 18-inch (46 cm) stretch of the aft fuselage. First flight occurred on 29 October 1980. The total program cost to develop the F-16/J79 was $18 million (1980), and the unit flyaway cost was projected to be about $8 million. South Korea, Pakistan and other nations were offered these fighters but rejected them, resulting in numerous exceptions being made to sell standard F-16s; with the later relaxation of the policy under President Carter in 1980 and its cancellation under President Ronald Reagan, no copies of either the F-16/79 or the F-20 were ultimately sold.
- In February 1979 General Electric was awarded a $79.9 million (1979) contract under the joint USAF/Navy Derivative Fighter Engine (DFE) program to develop a variant of its F101 turbofan engine, originally designed for the B-1A bomber, for use on the F-16 (in lieu of the standard P&W F100) and the F-14A (in place of the P&W TF30). The first FSD F-16A (#75-0745) was fitted with the F101X DFE engine and flew for the first time on 19 December 1980. Although the F101 performed better than the F100 and it was adopted for use; however, data from testing the F-16/101 assisted in the development of the F110 turbofan, for which the F101 would serve as the core, and the F110 would become an alternate engine for both the F-16 and F-14.
- The F-16XL featured a novel ‘cranked-arrow’ type of delta wing with more than twice the area of the standard F-16 wing. Developed under a program originally known as the Supersonic Cruise and Maneuvering Program (SCAMP), the design was intended to offer low drag at high subsonic or supersonic speeds without compromising low-speed maneuverability. As a result, the F-16XL can cruise efficiently at supersonic speeds without use of an afterburner. In late 1980, the USAF agreed to provide GD with the third and fifth FSD F-16s for modification into single-seat and twin-seat F-16XL prototypes. To accommodate the larger wing, the aircraft was lengthened 56 in (142 cm) by the addition of a 30-inch (76 cm) plug in the forward fuselage and a 26-inch (66 cm) section to the aft fuselage just behind the landing gear. The rear fuselage was also canted up by three degrees to increase the angle of attack on takeoff and landing. The F-16XL could carry twice the payload of the F-16 on 27 hardpoints, and it had a 40% greater range due to an 82% increase in internal fuel carriage. The single-seat F-16XL first flew on 3 July 1982, followed by the two-seater on 29 October 1982. The F-16XL competed unsuccessfully with the F-15E Strike Eagle in the Enhanced Tactical Fighter (ETF) program; if it had won the competition, the production versions were to have been designated F-16E/F. Following the February 1984 selection announcement, both examples of the F-16XL were placed in flyable storage.
- In late 1988, the two prototypes were taken out of storage and turned over to NASA for use in a program designed to evaluate aerodynamics concepts to improve laminar airflow over the wing during sustained supersonic flight. From 1989–1999, both aircraft were used by NASA for several experimental research programs, and in 2007, NASA was considering returning the single-seat F-16XL to operational status for further aeronautical research.
- In March 1980, General Dynamics began converting the sixth FSD F-16A to serve as the technology demonstrator aircraft for the joint Flight Dynamics Laboratory-NASA Advanced Fighter Technology Integration (AFTI) program. The AFTI F-16 built upon GD’s experience with its YF-16 CCV program, and the AFTI F-16 even received the twin pivoting vertical ventral fins from the CCV aircraft, which were likewise installed under the air intake. The aircraft was also fitted with a narrow dorsal fairing along its spine to house additional electronics. Technologies introduced and tested on the AFTI F-16 include a full-authority triplex Digital Flight Control System (DFCS), a six-degree-of-freedom Automated Maneuvering Attack System (AMAS), a 256-word-capacity Voice-Controlled Interactive Device (VCID) to control the avionics suite, and a helmet-mounted target designation sight that permitted the FLIR and radar to be automatically “slaved” to the pilot’s head movement. First flight of the AFTI F-16 occurred on 10 July 1982. The Air Force Association gave its 1987 Theodore von Karman Award for the most outstanding achievement in science and engineering to the F-16/AFTI team.
- The AFTI F-16 participated in numerous research and development
- AFTI Phase I testing (1981–1983): a two-year effort focused on proving the DFCS system.
- AFTI Phase II testing (1983–1987): evaluation of the wing-root-mounted FLIR and the AMAS system.
- CAS/BAI (1988–1992): a five-phase evaluation program testing a variety of low-level close air support/battlefield air interdiction (CAS/BAI) techniques, including an Automatic Target Handoff System (ATHS) (which transferred target data from ground stations or other aircraft to the AFTI/F-16) and off-axis weapons launch.
- Talon Sword Bravo (1993–1994): demonstration of cooperative engagement techniques where the aircraft fires at a target based on targeting information datalinked from a distant sensor; the weapon principally investigated was the AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM).
- EGI (1994 & 1997): testing of embedded GPS/INS (EGI) navigation systems, including evaluation of the reliability of GPS in jamming environments.
- AGCAS (1994–1996): testing of an Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (AGCAS or Auto-GCAS) to help reduce the incidence of “controlled flight into terrain" (CFIT); lessons learned from this program were further evolved on the F-16 GCAS.
- J/IST (1997–2000): testing of the world’s first all-electric flight control system under the Joint Strike Fighter Integrated Subsystem Technologies (J/IST) program.
- About two dozen F-16As of the Royal Netherlands Air Force were supplied with indigenous Oude Delft Orpheus low-altitude tactical reconnaissance pods transferred from its retiring RF-104G. Designated F-16A(R), the first flew on 27 January 1983, and they entered service with the RNLAF’s 306 Squadron in October 1984. Beginning in 1995, the Belgian Air Force replaced its own Mirage 5BR reconnaissance aircraft with at least a dozen F-16A(R) equipped with loaned Orpheus pods and Vinten cameras from the Mirages; these were replaced with more capable Per Udsen modular recce pods from 1996–1998. The F-16A(R) remained primarily combat aircraft with a secondary reconnaissance role.
- F-16 Recce and RF-16A/C
- The first reconnaissance variant was a USAF F-16D experimentally configured in 1986 with a centerline multi-sensor bathtub-style pod; it was referred to as “F-16 Recce” (and not “RF-16D” as it has sometimes been misreported). The USAF decided in 1988 to replace the aging RF-4C Phantom fleet with RF-16C Block 30s fitted with the Control Data Corporation’s Advanced Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance System (ATARS) centerline pod, which could carry a variety of sensors. Problems with the ATARS program, however, led to the USAF’s departure in June 1993. During the mid-1990s, the U.S. Air Force experimented with a series of centerline recce pod designs, beginning with a prototype pod, the Electro-Optical 1 (EO-1) pod. This was followed by four “Richmond recce pods”, which saw service in the Balkans. The USAF finally settled on what would become the definitive AN/ASD-11 Theater Airborne Reconnaissance System (TARS). The first F-16 flight with a prototype TARS flew on 26 August 1995, and on 27 September 1996 the USAF placed its first production order for the pods. Block 30s and Block 25s of five Air National Guard squadrons have received the system since mid-1998. The USAF, however, does not designate them “RF-16s”.
- The designation RF-16A is used, though, by the Royal Danish Air Force. In early 1994, 10 Danish F-16A were redesignated as RF-16A tactical recce aircraft, replacing the RF-35 Drakens withdrawn at the end of 1993. As a temporary measure they were originally fitted with the Drakens’ optical cameras and E-O sensors repackaged in a Per Udsen ‘Red Baron’ recce pod, which were replaced a few years later by Per Udsen’s Modular Reconnaissance Pod (MRP).
- F-16 Agile Falcon
- The F-16 Agile Falcon was a variant proposed by GD in 1984 that featured a 25% larger wing, uprated engines, and some already planned MSIP IV improvements for the basic F-16. Unsuccessfully offered as a low-cost alternative for the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) competition, some of its capabilities were incorporated into the Block 40 F-16C/D, and the Agile Falcon would serve as the basis for developing Japan’s F-2 fighter.
- F-16D ‘CK-1’
- MANAT, the Israeli Air Force’s flight test center, is known to operate a specially built Block 40 F-16D delivered in 1987 as a testbed aircraft designated ‘CK-1’. It is used by the IAF for testing new flight configurations, weapon systems and avionics.
- A-16 and F/A-16
- F-16 variants modified to serve as dedicated close air support (CAS) aircraft. The A-16 was a late-1980s GD project to develop a CAS version of the basic F-16 by adding armor and strengthening the wings for a heavier weapons load, including a 30 mm cannon and 7.62 mm Minigun pods. Two F-16A Block 15 aircraft were modified to this configuration. Envisioned as a successor to the A-10, the type was to have received the ‘Block 60’ designation; however, the A-16 never went into production due a 26 November 1990 Congressional directive to the USAF mandating that it retain two wings of A-10s.
- A second outcome of that directive was a decision by the Air Force that, instead of upgrading the A-10, it would seek to retrofit 400 Block 30/32 F-16s as with new equipment to perform both CAS and battlefield air interdiction (BAI) missions. The new systems for this “F/A-16” Block 30 included a digital terrain-mapping system and GPS integration for improved navigational and weapons delivery accuracy, as well as an Automatic Target Handoff System (ATHS) to allow direct digital target/mission data exchange between the pilot and ground units. This approach, however, was dropped in January 1992 in favor of equipping Block 40/42 F-16C/Ds with LANTIRN pods.
- In 1991, 24 F-16A/B Block 10 aircraft belonging to the 174th TFW, a New York ANG unit that had transitioned from the A-10 in 1988, were armed with the 30 mm GAU-13/A four-barrel derivative of the seven-barrel GAU-8/A cannon used by the A-10A. This weapon was carried in a General Electric GPU-5/A Pave Claw pod on the centerline station, and was supplied with 353 rounds of ammunition. There were also plans to convert F-16C’s to this configuration and to incorporate the A-10’s AN/AAS-35V Pave Penny laser spot tracker. The vibration from the gun when firing proved so severe as to make both aiming and flying the aircraft difficult, and trials were suspended after two days. Although the 174th’s aircraft were employed for CAS during Desert Storm, they did not use the gun pods in action, and the Block 10 F/A-16 were phased out after the war.
- F-16AT Falcon 21
- In 1990 General Dynamics proposed the F-16AT 'Falcon 21' as a low-cost alternative for the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program that would eventually lead to the F-22 Raptor. It was a single-engined fighter based on the F-16XL, but with a trapezoidal wing.
- NF-16D / VISTA / MATV
- In the late 1980s, General Dynamics and General Electric began exploring the application of thrust vector control (TVC) technology to the F-16 under the F-16 Multi-Axis Thrust-Vectoring (MATV) program. Originally the Israel Defense Force/Air Force was going to supply an F-16D for this effort; however, the USAF, which had initially declined to support the program, changed its mind and took over the MATV project in 1991, and Israel withdrew from it the following year.
- Meanwhile, General Dynamics had received a contract in 1988 to develop the Variable-stability In-flight Simulator Test Aircraft (VISTA). The F-16 VISTA effort was funded by the USAF, the U.S. Navy, and NASA. Calspan, a subcontractor to GD, fitted a Block 30 F-16D belonging to Wright Labs with a center stick (in addition to the sidestick controller), a new computer and digital flight control system that allowed it to imitate, to a degree, the performance of other aircraft. Redesignated NF-16D, its first flight in the VISTA configuration occurred on 9 April 1992.
- In 1993, the variable-stability computers and center stick were temporarily removed from the VISTA for flight tests for the MATV program, under which the first use of thrust-vectoring in flight was accomplished on 30 July. Thrust-vectoring was enabled through the use of the Axisymmetric Vectoring Exhaust Nozzle (AVEN). Following the conclusion of MATV testing in March 1994, the VISTA variable-stability computers were reinstalled. In 1996 a program was begun to fit the NF-16D with a multi-directional thrust-vectoring nozzle, but the program was canceled due to lack of funding later that year. Although the F-16 VISTA program was considered successful, thrust vectoring was not taken up for the F-16 by the U.S. Air Force.
- In F-16U was one of several configurations proposed for the United Arab Emirates in the early 1990s. The F-16U was a two-seat aircraft that combined many features of the F-16XL and the delta wing of the F-16X.
- F-16X Falcon 2000
- In 1993 Lockheed Martin proposed development of a new version of the venerable F-16. This F-16X ‘Falcon 2000’ featured a delta-wing planform like that of the F-22; together with the fuselage stretch to accommodate the new wing design, the F-16X would have 80% more internal fuel volume. The design also permitted conformal carriage of the AIM-120 AMRAAM. LM claimed the F-16X could be built for two-thirds the cost of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
- F-16 ES
- The F-16 Enhanced Strategic (ES) was an extended-range variant of the F-16C/D fitted with conformal fuel tanks that granted it a 40% greater range over the standard Block 50. The F-16ES also featured an internal forward-looking infrared (FLIR) system, which offered the capabilities of the LANTIRN navigation and targeting system without the drag associated with external pods. Unsuccessfully offered to Israel as an alternative to the F-15I Strike Eagle in late 1993, it was one of several configuration options offered to the United Arab Emirates that would ultimately lead to the development of the F-16E/F Block 60 for that nation. An F-16C Block 30 was modified to the ES configuration to test the conformal tanks and simulated FLIR sensor turrets fitted above and below the nose of the aircraft. The F-16ES first flew on 5 November 1994 and flight testing was completed in January 1995.
- F-16 LOAN
- The F-16 Low-Observable Asymmetric Nozzle (LOAN) demonstrator was an F-16C fitted in late 1996 with a prototype nozzle with significantly reduced radar and infrared signatures and lowered maintenance requirements. It was tested in November 1996 to evaluate the technology for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.
- These designations have been applied to F-16A/B that have received the F-16 Mid-Life Update (MLU), which improves improve the reliability, supportability and maintainability of the aircraft, and upgrades the cockpit to a standard similar to that of the Block 50. Conversion work began in January 1997. F-16AM/BM were first introduced by the air forces of Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway; their use has since been extended to Chile, Jordan, Pakistan, and Portugal.
- F-16 GCAS
- Due to the unavailability of the AFTI F-16 following the AGCAS effort, a Block 25 F-16D was modified for continued investigation of ground collision-avoidance system (GCAS) technologies to reduce CFIT incidents; this joint effort by the USAF, Lockheed Martin, NASA and the Swedish Air Force was conducted during 1997–1998.
- Lockheed Martin has proposed an advanced variant, the F-16IN, as its candidate for India’s 126-aircraft Indian Air Force Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition. According to Chuck Artymovich, the company's business development director for the program, "The F-16IN is the most advanced F-16 ever." Notable F-16IN features include an AN/APG-79 AESA radar, advanced electronic warfare suites, and an infrared search and track (IRST) system. If selected as the winner of the competition, Lockheed Martin will supply the first 18 aircraft, and will set up an assembly line in India in collaboration with Indian partners for production of the remainder. The program is reportedly worth up to Rs. 55,000 crore (US$14 billion).
- Small numbers of each type of F-16 are used for non-flying ground instruction of maintenance personnel.
- The USAF is considering converting older-model F-16s into full-scale target drones under the QF-16 Air Superiority Target (AST) program. These AST drones are used in Weapon System Evaluation Programs (WSEP) for assessing upgrades or replacements for air-to-air missiles (AAM), and they are also useful for giving pilots the experience of a live AAM shot and kill prior to entering combat. QF-16s would replace the current QF-4 drones, the last of which are expected to have be expended around 2010. The Air Force’s Air Armament Center hosted its first “Industry Day” for interested vendors at Eglin AFB, Florida on 16-19 July 2007.
Major upgrade programs
- F-16 MSIP
- In 1980, General Dynamics, the USAF’s F-16 System Program Office (SPO), and the EPG partners initiated a long-term Multinational Staged Improvement Program (MSIP) to evolve new capabilities for the F-16, mitigate risks during technology development, and ensure its currency against a changing threat environment. The F-16 Falcon Century program, a survey and evaluation of new technologies and new capabilities that began in 1982, was also relied upon to identify new concepts for integration onto the F-16 through the MSIP derivative development effort. Altogether, the MSIP process permitted quicker introduction of new capabilities, at lower costs, and with reduced risks compared to traditional stand-alone system enhancement and modernization programs.
- The first stage, MSIP I, began in February 1980 and it introduced the new technologies that defined the Block 15 aircraft. Fundamentally, MSIP I improvements were focused on reducing the cost of retrofitting future systems. These included structural and wiring provisions for a wide-field-of-view raster head-up display (HUD); multifunction displays; advanced fire control computer and central weapons interface unit; integrated Communications/Navigation/Identification (CNI) system; beyond-visual-range (BVR) air-to-air missiles, electro-optical and target acquisition pods, and internal electronic countermeasures (ECM) systems; and increased-capacity environmental control and electrical power systems. Delivery of the first USAF MSIP I Block 15 aircraft occurred in November 1981, and work on the first EPG MSIP I aircraft began in May 1982.
- MSIP II, begun in May 1981, led to the F-16C/D Block 25/30/32. For the Block 25, it basically added the systems which the MSIP I provisions had enabled. The first MSIP II F-16C Block 25 was delivered in July 1984. The Block 30/32 take advantage of the Alternative Fighter Engine program that offered a choice between two engines for the F-16: the General Electric F110-GE-100 (Block 30) as well as the newly upgraded Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 (Block 32). To take full advantage of the higher-thrust GE engine, a larger, modular air inlet duct was fitted on the Block 30s. MSIP II capabilities introduced on the Block 30/32 also included the ability to target multiple aircraft with the AMRAAM; range, resolution and signal processor improvements to the AN/APG-68 radar; a ring laser gyroscope; ALQ-213 electronic warfare system; added cooling air capacity for the more powerful avionics suite; employment of the AGM-45 Shrike anti-radiation missiles. The first Block 30 was delivered in July 1986.
- MSIP III produced the Block 40/42/50/52. Initiated in June 1985, the first MSIP III Block 40 was delivered in December 1988, and the first Block 50 followed in October 1991. Introduced in the MSIP III Block 40/42 were LANTIRN navigation and targeting pods, along with the related diffractive optics HUD; the increased-reliability APG-68V fire-control radar; an aft-seat HUD monitor in the F-16D; a four-channel digital flight-control system; GPS; advanced EW and IFF equipment; and further structural strengthening to counter the aircraft’s growing weight. The Block 50/52 received uprated F100-GE-129 and F110-PW-229 engines; an upgraded programmable display generator; an upgraded programmable display generator with digital terrain mapping; an improved APG-68V5 fire-control radar; an automatic target hand-off system; an anti-jam radio; the ALE-47 chaff dispenser; and integration of AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missiles.
- Although only three stages had been originally planned, GD proposed an MSIP IV segment (marketed as ‘Agile Falcon’), but this was rejected by the Air Force in 1989. However, most of its elements – such as extensive avionics upgrades, color displays, an electronic warfare management system (EWMS), reconnaissance pods, AIM-9X Sidewinder infrared air-to-air missile integration, and helmet-mounted sights – have been introduced since that time. 
- Pacer Loft I & II
- F-16A/B Blocks 1 and 5 were upgraded to the Block 10 standard under a two-phase program: Pacer Loft I (1982–1983) and Pacer Loft II (1983–1984).
- F-16A/B Block 15 OCU
- Beginning in January 1988, all Block 15 F-16A/B were delivered with an Operational Capability Upgrade (OCU). The Block 15 OCU aircraft incorporate the wide-angle HUD that was first introduced on the F-16C/D Block 25, more reliable F100-PW-220 turbofans, updated defensive systems, and the ability to fire the AIM-120 AMRAAM, the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile, and the AGM-119 Penguin Mk.3 anti-shipping missile developed by the Norwegian company Kongsberg. Many foreign customers upgraded their aircraft to the F-16A/B Block 15OCU standard.
- F-16 MLU
- In 1989 a two-year study began regarding possible mid-life upgrades for the USAF’s and European Partner Air Forces’ (EPAF’s) F-16A/B’s. The resulting F-16 Mid-Life Update (MLU) package was designed to upgrade the cockpit and avionics to the equivalent of that on the F-16C/D Block 50; add the ability to employ radar-guided air-to-air missiles; and to generally enhance the operational performance and improve the reliability, supportability and maintainability of the aircraft. Development began in May 1991 and continued until 1997; however, the USAF withdrew from the MLU program in 1992, although it did procure the modular mission computer for its Block 50/52 aircraft.
- The first of five prototype conversions flew on 28 April 1995, and installation of production kits began in January 1997. Original plans called for the production of 553 kits (110 for Belgium, 63 for Denmark, 172 for the Netherlands, 57 for Norway, and 130 for the USAF), however, final orders amounted to only 325 kits (72 for Belgium, 61 for Denmark, 136 for the Netherlands, and 56 for Norway). The EPAFs redesignated the F-16A/B aircraft receiving the MLU as F-16AM/BM, respectively. Portugal later joined the program and the first of 20 aircraft was redelivered on 26 June 2003. In recent years, Chile, Jordan, and Pakistan have purchased surplus Dutch and Belgian F-16AM/BM for their air forces.
- Development of new software and hardware modifications continues under the MLU program. The M3 software tape was installed in parallel with the Falcon STAR structural upgrade to bring the F-16AM/BM up to the standards of the USAF’s Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP). A total of 296 M3 kits (72 for Belgium, 59 for Denmark, 57 for Norway, and 108 for the Netherlands) were ordered for delivery from 2002–2007; installation is anticipated to be completed in 2010. An M4 tape has also been developed that adds the ability to use additional weapons and the Pantera targeting pod; Norway began operating flying combat operations in Afghanistan with these upgraded aircraft in 2008. An M5 tape is in development that enable employment of a wider array of the latest smart weapons, and the first aircraft upgraded with it are due to be delivered in 2009.
- Falcon UP
- Although the F-16 was originally designed with an expected service life of 8000 flying hours, actual operational usage has proven to be more severe than expected and this has been exacerbated by its growing weight as more systems and structure have been added to the aircraft. As a result, the anticipated average service life of the F-16A/B had fallen to only 5500 flying hours. Beginning in the early 1990s, the Falcon UP program restored the 8000-hour capability for the USAF’s Block 40/42 aircraft. Pleased with the results, the USAF extended the Falcon UP effort to provide a Service Life Improvement Program (SLIP) for its Block 25 and 30/32 aircraft to ensure 6000 flying hours, and a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) for its F-16A/B aircraft to assure their achieving 8000 hours.
- Falcon STAR
- Falcon STAR (STructural Augmentation Roadmap) is a program to repair and replace critical airframe components on all F-16A/B/C/D aircraft; like Falcon UP, it is intended to ensure an 8000-hour service life, but is based on more recent operational usage statistics. The first redelivery occurred in February 2004, and in 2007 the USAF announced that it would upgrade 651 Block 40/42/50/52 F-16’s; this is expected to extend the Falcon STAR program, which began in 1999, through 2014.
- F-16 ACE
- Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) developed an open-architecture avionics suite upgrade for its F-16s known as the Avionics Capabilities Enhancement (ACE). It introduced the first “full-glass cockpit” on an operational F-16, and featured an advanced fire-control radar, an Up Front Control Panel (UFCP), and an option for a wide-angle head-up display (HUD) or a helmet-mounted display. First flight of an F-16B equipped with ACE was accomplished in May 2001. The ACE upgrade was not taken up by the Israeli Air Force, which ordered a second batch of the F-16I instead; IAI offered ACE to Venezuela but the U.S. government blocked it and stated that it would only permit elements of ACE, not the whole suite, to be exported.
- F-16 Falcon ONE
- Singapore Technologies Aerospace (ST Aero) has also developed a state-of-the-art, “glass cockpit” avionics suite as an alternative to the MLU offering. The Falcon ONE suite includes a wide-angle HUD that can display FLIR imagery, the Striker Helmet-Mounted Display (HMD), a datalink capability, and the FIAR Grifo radar. First revealed at the Farnborough Air Show on 25 July 2000, it has yet to find a customer.
- F-16 CCIP
- The Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP) is a $2 billion modernization effort that seeks to standardize all USAF Block 40/42/50/52 F-16s to a common Block 50/52-based avionics software and hardware configuration for simplified training and maintenance. General Dynamics received a contract to develop the first phase CCIP configuration upgrade packages in June 1998; kit production work started in 2000, and deliveries began in July 2001.
- Phase 1 of the CCIP introduced new Modular Mission Computers, color cockpit display kits and advanced IFF systems to domestically based Block 50/52 aircraft, and introduced the new Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP). The ability of the F-16CJ/DJ to employ GPS-guided weapons was extended to the rest of the Block 50/52 fleet. Upgraded Phase 1 aircraft redeliveries began in January 2002. The second phase extended these upgrades to overseas-based Block 50/52 Falcons, and redeliveries ran from July 2003 to June 2007. Phase II also included the introduction of autonomous beyond-visual-range air-intercept capability, the Link-16 datalink, and the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS).
- The ongoing Phase 3 effort is focused on Block 40/42 F-16s. Development began in July 2003 and by June 2007 Lockheed Martin had completed roughly a quarter of the USAF’s Block 40/42 fleet. Phase 3 incorporates the M3+ Operational Flight Program (OFP) which extends the capabilities of the first two phases to the Block 40/42 fleet and adds Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS), the new NATO-standard datalink network. Development of an M4+ OFP began in late 2002; this update will allow use of the Raytheon AIM-9X on Block 40/42/50/52 aircraft. Northrop Grumman was awarded a contract in early 2004 to develop an M5+ upgrade kit to update the AN/APG-68(V)5 radars on the Block 40/42/50/52 Falcons to the AN/APG-68(V)9 standard; upgrading of Block 40/42 aircraft began in 2007 and is to become operational on the Block 50/52 aircraft by 2010. An M6+ OFP is under consideration, and could include integration of the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) on CCIP aircraft, which is planned to begin in fiscal year 2012.
- Turkey became the first international customer for the CCIP update with the signing of a $1.1 billion contract on 26 April 2005 to upgrade an initial 76 Block 40/50 and 41 Block 30 F-16C/Ds to an equivalent of the Phase 3/M5+ OFP standard under the ‘Peace Onyx III’ Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. This work will be performed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and is due to be completed in 2012; however, Turkey holds on option on the upgrade of the remainder of its 100 Block 40s, which could extend the program.
- The Combat Upgrade Plan Integration Details (CUPID) effort is an ongoing initiative to bring older U.S. Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command Block 25/30/32 F-16s closer to Block 50/52 specifications. CUPID focuses on adding improved precision attack capabilities, night vision equipment, datalinks, carriage of the Litening II infrared targeting pod, and laser- and GPS-guided weapons.
The performance and flexibility of the F-16 has been an important and visible influence on aircraft development programs of three nations seeking to advance the design and manufacturing skills of their indigenous aerospace industries. The resulting aircraft are not copies of the basic F-16, but the inspiration of the Fighting Falcon on their design is readily apparent.
- AIDC F-CK-1A/B Ching Kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF)
- Due to U.S. refusal to supply the Republic of China (Taiwan) with either the F-16/79 or F-20, the Taiwanese government tasked its Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) to develop an indigenous fighter. Preliminary design studies began in 1980, and the Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) program was launched two years later. Since Taiwanese industry had not developed a sophisticated fighter before, AIDC sought design and development assistance from General Dynamics and other major American aerospace companies. With such assistance, a design was finalized in 1985. The IDF design is by no means a copy of the F-16, but it was clearly influenced by the F-16, such as the layout of control surfaces, yet it also features design elements from the F-5, like its twin-engine configuration. In December 1988 the IDF aircraft was designated F-CK-1 and named after the late President Chiang Ching-Kuo. The first of four prototypes (3 single-seat and 1 twin-seat) flew on 28 May 1989. A total of 130 Ching Kuo fighters (102 F-CK-1A single-seaters and 28 F-CK-1B two-seaters) were delivered from 1994–2000.
- Mitsubishi F-2A/B (FS-X/TFS-X)
- In 1982, Japan’s Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) initiated studies of options for an indigenous fighter design to replace the Mitsubishi F-1 strike fighter. This initiative would later be designated FS-X (Fighter Support Experimental). (The two-seat trainer version was originally designated ‘TFS-X’.) Determining that an entirely indigenous development effort would be cost-prohibitive, the Japanese Defense Agency (JDA) sought an off-the-shelf fighter for its FS-X (Fighter Support Experimental) requirement, but none proved entirely acceptable. As a result, the JDA sought a co-development program based on a variant of an existing fighter type, and on 21 October 1987 announced its selection of a modified version of the F-16C/D based on General Dynamics’ "Agile Falcon" concept. The FS-X is larger and heavier than the F-16, has a greater wing area, and is mainly fitted with Japanese-developed avionics and equipment. The program was launched a year later and the first of four XF-2A/B prototypes flew on 7 October 1995. The Japanese Cabinet authorized production on 15 December 1995, with the designation F-2A/B being allocated to the single- and two-seat models, respectively. First flight of an F-2A occurred on 12 October 1999, and production aircraft deliveries began on 25 September 2000. Originally, 141 F-2A/B (83 F-2A and 58 F-2B) were planned, but only 130 (83/47 F-2A/B) were approved in 1995; due to high costs, in December 2004, the total was capped at 98 aircraft, and in early 2007 this was reduced to 94.
- KAI T/A-50 Golden Eagle (KTX-2)
- Building on its licensed manufacture of KF-16s, in 1992 Samsung Aerospace began work on designing a tandem-seat, supersonic, combat-capable jet trainer to replace the BAE Systems Hawk 67 and Northrop T-38 Talon jet trainers operated by the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF). Samsung worked closely with Lockheed and the basic KTX-2 design had been laid out by 1995. At this point the aerospace units of Samsung, Daewoo and Hyundai were combined to form Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to ensure sufficient industrial “critical mass” to successfully develop the KTX-2. The T-50 resembles an 80%-scale F-16, but has a number of differences, not least being the fact that it has an engine air intake under each wing root, instead of a single under-belly intake, as well as a leading-edge extension more similar to that on the F/A-18 Hornet. The South Korean government gave its approval on 3 July 1997, and full-scale development work got underway in October. In February 2000, the KTX-2 was designated the T-50 Golden Eagle, and the first of two T-50 flight-test prototypes flew on 20 August 2002; first flight of the first of two T-50 Lead-In Fighter Trainer (LIFT) prototypes – designated ‘A-50’ by the RoKAF and capable of combat – followed on 29 August 2003. The RoKAF plans to acquire 50 T-50 advanced trainers and 44 A-50 LIFT trainer and light attack aircraft. Its first production contract, for 25 T-50, was placed in December 2003 and the first pair of T-50 aircraft was delivered 29 December 2005, and the type entered operational service in April 2007. In December 2006, the RoKAF placed a second production contract for 50 T-50 and A-50 aircraft; the first A-50 is scheduled to be delivered in 2009. The further development of an F-50 (or FA-50) air defense variant to replace Korea’s numerous F-5E/F Tiger II aircraft is under consideration.
- Main article: List of F-16 Fighting Falcon operators
- Bahrain: Royal Bahraini Air Force (22)
- Belgium: Belgian Air Component (68) original order 116 (96 single- and 20 two-seaters), additional order of 44 in 1988 (40 single- and 4 two-seaters)
- Chile: Chilean Air Force (28)
- Denmark: Royal Danish Air Force (48 + 21 in storage)
- Egypt: Egyptian Air Force (220)
- Greece: Hellenic Air Force (131 + 30 on order)
- Jordan: Royal Jordanian Air Force (58)
- Indonesia: Indonesian Air Force (10, originally had 12 but 2 were lost in different accidents); Plans to upgrade their F-16A/B to F-16C/D variants and also plan to replace their F-5E/F by F-16C/D as an option.)
- Israel: Israeli Air Force (322)
- Italy: Italian Air Force (34; leased from USAF)
- Morocco: Royal Moroccan Air Force (24 on order)
- Netherlands: Royal Netherlands Air Force (82+18 in storage)
- Norway: Royal Norwegian Air Force (74 delivered, 57 in service as of 2007)
- Oman: Royal Air Force of Oman (12)
- Pakistan: Pakistan Air Force (34 + 44 on order + option for 36 more) 
- Poland: Polish Air Force (48)
- Portugal: Portuguese Air Force (45)
- Singapore: Republic of Singapore Air Force (76)
- Republic of China (Taiwan): Republic of China Air Force (150)
- South Korea: Republic of Korea Air Force (180) (F-16C/D 40, KF-16C/D 140 ; KF-16C/D built under license by Korean Aerospace Industries)
- Thailand: Royal Thai Air Force (61)
- Turkey: Turkish Air Force (240+30 on order) F-16s built under license by Turkish Aerospace Industries, They incorporate to a certain degree indigenous sub-systems such as the Aselsan developed Aselsan AN/APX-117 IFF (Identifying friend of foe) system. All TuAF F-16 will be CCIP level. 
- United Arab Emirates: United Arab Emirates Air Force (80)
- United States
- Venezuela: Venezuelan Air Force (24)
Current sales proposals
In November 2006, the Pakistan Air Force signed a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) for 18 new-built F-16C/D Block 52+, 26 F-16A/B Block 15 and 60 Mid-Life-Update M3 Tape modules/kits as part of a $5.1bn deal including fighter aircraft, their related infrastructure, training and ammunition. Deliveries of the F-16A/Bs are expected to begin in 2007, while the initial F-16C/Ds will likely be received sometime in late 2008 or early 2009. The current procurement program of new-built aircraft as well as refurbishment and upgrade of 60 used and serving aircraft is expected to be complete by 2010-2012, as per the Pakistan Air Force Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed. In April 2006, Janes Defence Weekly reported that the PAF may procure an additional 33 F-16C/D Block 52+ - these would likely include the 18 option Block 52+ from the current deal. In July 2007, Commander of Central Command Air Forces, Lieutenant General Gary L. North (U.S. Air Force), and another U.S. aviator flew a pair of F-16s to Pakistan for Pakistan Air Force.
The Philippine Air Force (PAF) also expressed its interest in the F-16, but its plan to purchase modern multi-role fighter aircraft to replace its retired F-5A/B Freedom Fighters has been shelved due to economic reasons and having counter-insurgency operations as its main priority. In the mid-1990s, the PAF did not act on a US offer to sell 28 F-16A/B Block 15 OCU fighters, which were earlier embargoed from Pakistan. 
The Republic of China (Taiwan)'s Air Force (ROCAF), needing a next generation fighter to replace its fleet of F-16 A/B Block 20s, has expressed interest in the new F-35 Lightning II. However, due to political issues, it is unlikely the island nation will be able to acquire such an advanced fighter in the near future. As a result, the ROCAF has opted for up to 66 new F-16C/D Block50/52 as its interim replacement fighter. As with all military purchases, Beijing has expressed opposition to the sale.
Croatian Air Force will by 2011 purchase 12 or more modern multi-role fighter aircraft to replace its MiG-21 bis/MF. The most-likely candidates are JAS 39 Gripen or F-16C/D.
The Indonesian Air Force is seeking approval to purchase 6 new F-16 C/D variants to strengthen their F-16 squadron. Currently 10 F-16s are in service, originally the Indonesian Air Force had 12 but 2 were subsequently lost in separate incidents. From 2000 to 2005 the US imposed an arms embargo on Indonesia which resulted in the F-16 squadron being grounded due to a lack of spare parts.
The U.S. Pentagon said on 19 May 2008 that it had notified Congress of the possible sale to Romania of 24 new Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighter jets and 24 refurbished older F-16s, plus associated equipment, in a deal valued at up to $4.5 billion.
On 8 May 1975, while practicing a 9-g aerial display maneuver at Fort Worth prior to being sent to the Paris Air Show, one of the main landing gear jammed. The test pilot, Neil Anderson, had to perform an emergency gear-up landing and chose to do so in the grass, hoping to minimize damage and to avoid injuring the many GD employees observing the display. The damage was too expensive to repair.
On 27 March 2000 and Israeli Air Force F-16D into the Mediterranean Sea during a training flight 17 nmi off the coastal village of Atlit in northern Israel. The pilot, Major Yonatan Begin, was a grandson of former Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin. Neither he nor his co-pilot, Lt. Lior Harari, had notified their ground controllers of any problems; their remains were not recovered.
On March 14, 2008, an F-16 from 62nd Fighter Squadron from Luke Air Force Base crashed south of Alamo Lake, Arizona. The F-16 was piloted by a student pilot in combat training with another pilot. The F-16 struck the ground, killing the pilot.
Specifications (F-16C Block 30)
- Crew: 1
- Length: 49 ft 5 in (14.8 m)
- Wingspan: 32 ft 8 in (9.8 m)
- Height: 16 ft (4.8 m)
- Wing area: 300 ft² (27.87 m²)
- Airfoil: NACA 64A204 root and tip
- Empty weight: 18,200 lb (8,270 kg)
- Loaded weight: 26,500 lb (12,000 kg)
- Max takeoff weight: 42,300 lb (19,200 kg)
- Powerplant: 1× Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 afterburning turbofan
- Alternate powerplant: 1× General Electric F110-GE-100 afterburning turbofan
- Dry thrust: 17,155 lbf (76.3 kN)
- Thrust with afterburner: 28,600 lbf (128.9 kN)
- Maximum speed:
- Combat radius: 340 NM (295 mi, 550 km) on a hi-lo-hi mission with six 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs
- Ferry range: >2,100 NM (2,420 NM, 3,900 km)
- Service ceiling >50,000 ft (15,239 m)
- Rate of climb: 50,000 ft/min (254 m/s)
- Wing loading: 88.2 lb/ft² (431 kg/m²)
- Thrust/weight: For F100 engine: 0.898, For F110: 1.095
- Guns: 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61 Vulcan gatling gun, 511 rounds
- Rockets: 2¾ in (70 mm) CRV7
- 2× CBU-87 Combined Effects Munition
- 2× CBU-89 Gator mine
- 2× CBU-97 Sensor Fuzed Weapon
- Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser capable
- 4× GBU-10 Paveway II
- 6× GBU-12 Paveway II
- 6× Paveway-series laser-guided bombs
- 4× JDAM
- 4× Mark 84 general-purpose bombs
- 8× Mark 83 GP bombs
- 12× Mark 82 GP bombs
- B61 nuclear bomb
The F-16 can be seen in movies such as Blue Thunder, The Jewel of the Nile, the Iron Eagle series, X2, and The Sum Of All Fears. It also appears, in a more negative light, in the 1992 TV movie Afterburn.
Due to its widespread adoption, the F-16 has been a popular model for computer flight simulators, appearing in over twenty games. Some of them are: Falcon series (1987-2005), F-16 Fighting Falcon (1984), Jet (1989), Strike Commander (1993), iF-16 (1997), F-16 Multi-role Fighter (1998), F-16 Aggressor (1999), and Thrustmaster "HOTAS Cougar" flight simulator controller (exacting reproduction of those found in the F-16 Block 40/50). The F-16 is also one of two aircraft available in the built-in flight simulator in Google Earth.
See alsoMilitary of the United States Portal
- Chengdu J-10/FC-4
- F/A-18 Hornet
- F-20 Tigershark
- IAI Lavi
- JAS 39 Gripen
- Chengdu FC-1/JF-17 Thunder
- Dassault Mirage 2000
- Mikoyan MiG-29
- HAL Tejas
- ^ F-16 Fact Sheet, US Air Force, October 2007.
- ^ F-16 Fighting Falcon
- ^ Lockheed Martin, Poland Air Force Celebrate Arrival of Most Advanced F-16 Multirole Fighters in Europe
- ^ General Dynamics history
- ^ Lockheed Martin history, 1990a
- ^ F-16 Fact Sheet, USAF, October 2007.
- ^ F-16 Fighting Falcon, F16, or Viper?
- ^ Richardson, Doug. General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon. London: Salamander Books, 1990. pp. 6–7. ISBN 0-86101-534-7.
- ^ Jenkins, Dennis R. F/A-18 Hornet: A Navy Success Story. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000. ISBN 0071346961.
- ^ Richardson 1990, pp. 6–7.
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External linksWikimedia Commons has media related to: F-16 Fighting Falcon
- F-16 USAF fact sheet
- F-16 page on LockheedMartin.com
- F-16 page on GlobalSecurity.org
- F-16 profile on Aerospaceweb.org
- F-16.net Extensive and up-to-date Fighting Falcon resource
- F-16C Reference Library, great site with cockpit pictures and schematics (default language is German, use flag to switch to English as needed)
- Example of Virtual Fighter Wing
- Lucky Devils: 3.7 million pounds of ordinance, 1303 sorties, 42 days.
- F-16 Modernization program news release
Basic Model Numbers: L-1 · L-2 · L-3 · L-4 · L-5 · L-7 · L-8 · L-9 · L-10 · L-11 · L-012 · (L-013 not assigned) · L-014 · L-015 · L-016 · L-017 · L-018 · L-019 · L-020 · L-021 · L-022 · L-023 · L-024 · (L-025 not assigned) · L-026 · L-027 · (L-028 not assigned) · L-029 · L-030 · L-031 · L-032 · L-033 · L-034 · L-035 · (L-036 not assigned) · L-037 · (L-038 and L-039 not assigned) · L-040 · L-041 · L-042 · L-044 · L-045 · L-049 · L-050 · L-051 · L-052 · L-060 · L-061 · L-062 · L-075 · L-080 · L-081 · L-082 · L-083 · L-084 · L-085 · L-086 · L-087 · L-088 · L-089 · L-090 · L-091 · L-092 · L-093 · L-094 · L-092 · L-099 · L-100 · L-193 · L-245 · L-246 · L-300 · L-329 · L-351 · L-500 · L-645
California Lockheed Temporary Design Numbers (TDN): CL-282 · CL-288 · CL-295 · CL-320 · CL-325 · CL-329 · CL-346 · CL-379 · CL-400 · CL-407 · CL-475 · CL-595 · CL-704 · CL-760 · CL-823 · CL-901 · CL-915 · CL-934 · CL-981 · CL-984 · CL-985 · CL-1026 · CL-1195 · CL-1200 · CL-1400 · CL-1600 · CL-1700 · CL-1800 · CL-1980 ·By role
F-1 • F-2 • F-3 • F-4 • F-5 • F-6 • F-7 • F-8 • F-9 • F-10 • F-11 • YF-12 • (F-13 not assigned) • F-14 • F-15 • F-16 • YF-17 • F/A-18 • (F-19 not assigned) • F-20 • F-21 • F-22 • YF-23 • (F-24 to F-34 not assigned) • F-35See also: F-19 • F-117 • Pre-1962 list
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