The US Air force F-16 has served the US air force very well and will continue to serve in the US air force until the F-35 takes over. The General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force (USAF). Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4,500 aircraft have been built since production was approved in 1976. Although no longer being purchased by the U.S. Air Force, improved versions are still being built for export customers. 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 has key features including a frameless bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while maneuvering, a seat reclined 30 degrees to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot, and the first use of a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire flight control system helps to make it a nimble aircraft. The F-16 has an internal M61 Vulcan cannon and 11 locations for mounting weapons and other mission equipment. The F-16's official name is "Fighting Falcon", but "Viper" is commonly used by its pilots, due to a perceived resemblance to a viper snake as well as the Battlestar Galactica Colonial Viper starfighter.
In addition to active duty U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, and Air National Guard units, the aircraft is also used by the USAF aerial demonstration team, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, and as an adversary/aggressor aircraft by the United States Navy. The F-16 has also been procured to serve in the air forces of 25 other nations.
Length: 49 ft 5 in (15.06 m)
Wingspan: 32 ft 8 in (9.96 m)
Height: 16 ft (4.88 m)
Wing area: 300 ft² (27.87 m²)
Airfoil: NACA 64A204 root and tip
Empty weight: 18,900 lb (8,570 kg)
Loaded weight: 26,500 lb (12,000 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 42,300 lb (19,200 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × F110-GE-100 afterburning turbofan
Dry thrust: 17,155 lbf (76.3 kN)
Thrust with afterburner: 28,600 lbf (127 kN)
At sea level: Mach 1.2 (915 mph, 1,470 km/h)
At altitude: Mach 2 (1,320 mph, 2,120 km/h) clean configuration
Combat radius: 340 mi (295 nmi, 550 km) on a hi-lo-hi mission with four 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs
Ferry range: 2,280 nmi (2,620 mi, 4,220 km) with drop tanks
Service ceiling: 50,000+ ft (15,240+ m)
Rate of climb: 50,000 ft/min (254 m/s)
Wing loading: 88.3 lb/ft² (431 kg/m²)
Maximum g-load: +9.0 g
The F-16 is a single-engine, very maneuverable, supersonic, multi-role tactical fighter aircraft; it was designed to be a cost-effective combat "workhorse" that can perform various missions and maintain around-the-clock readiness. It is much smaller and lighter than predecessors, but uses advanced aerodynamics and avionics, including the first use of a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire (RSS/FBW) flight control system, to achieve enhanced maneuver performance. Highly nimble, the F-16 was the first fighter aircraft purpose-built to pull 9-g maneuvers and can reach a maximum speed of over Mach 2. Innovations include a frameless bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick, and reclined seat to reduce g-force effects on the pilot. It is armed with an internal M61 Vulcan cannon in the left wing root and has multiple locations for mounting various missiles, bombs and pods. It has a thrust-to-weight ratio greater than one, providing power to climb and accelerate vertically.
The F-16 was designed to be relatively inexpensive to build and simpler to maintain than earlier-generation fighters. The airframe is built with about 80% aviation-grade aluminum alloys, 8% steel, 3% composites, and 1.5% titanium. The leading-edge flaps, stabilators, and ventral fins make use of bonded aluminum honeycomb structures and graphite epoxy laminate coatings. The number of lubrication points, fuel line connections, and replaceable modules is significantly lower than predecessors; 80% of access panels can be accessed without stands. The air intake was placed so it was rearward of the nose but forward enough to minimize air flow losses and reduce drag.
Although the LWF program called for a structural life of 4,000 flight hours, capable of achieving 7.33 g with 80% internal fuel; GD's engineers decided to design the F-16's airframe life for 8,000 hours and for 9-g maneuvers on full internal fuel. This proved advantageous when the aircraft's mission changed from solely air-to-air combat to multi-role operations. Changes in operational use and additional systems have increased weight, necessitating multiple
Videos credit: Airman 1st Class Sarah Denewelli
Thumbnail credit: Frank Carter, modified by ArmedForcesUpdate