F-16 Introduced - History

F-16 Introduced - History

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The F-16 made it first flight on February 2nd, 1974. The plane was designed to be a less expensive compliment to the F-15. The F-16 was the winner in a design competition between General Dynamics and Northrup, which General Dynamic won. The plane became operational in 1979 and has become the mainstay of the US airforce. Large numbers have been exported and coproduced.

Aksano F-16

Aksano Catamarans recently introduced the F-16 to its model line of small, fast and fuel-efficient watercraft that function as yacht tender or performance boat.

The F-16 is a 16-foot tender putting it between the company’s F-3 and F-18 sportboats.

The proprietary “vee” center hull on the F-16 has a full catamaran hull design with triple laminar, according to the manufacturer. It has foam flotation in four compartments, two in the bow and two in the stern, making it a safe and reliable boat that can be offered as a yacht tender, according to Aksano. Weighing in at 1,500 pounds with engine, a yacht would require a sturdy modern davit system to support this tender.

The F-16 sports a duel console with performance steering, supplemented with storage beneath the consoles, and a center hull ski locker. This tender can double as a sportboat with the capability of hauling a water-skier behind it.

“This is unusual from a boatbuilder’s standpoint, yes, but the reason you have gotten a boat to begin with is to be able to do other things a big boat cannot offer, such as water sports, salmon fishing, or take a speed run to a new cove,” says Oz Aksan, CEO of Aksano. “This is not possible with a small inflatable tender.”

The F-16 has a 15-gallon fuel tank.

“Using the Honda 90-hp engine, the Aksano F-16 achieved nearly 50 mph on its first try,” says Honda district sales manager Mike Connors. Connors says that at top speed the cat-tender achieved 9 miles per gallon.

Pricing for the tender, paired with the 90-hp Honda engine runs at $26,750.

Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon

Authored By: Dan Alex | Last Edited: 05/27/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) F-16 "Fighting Falcon" was a product of Cold War-development and introduced along the lines of agility, lightweight classification and controlled costs - a multirole fighter to serve alongside the air superiority-minded McDonnell Douglas F-15 "Eagle". First flying on January 20th, 1974, the F-16 was formally introduced on August 17th, 1978 and has since seen production reach over 4,500 units with sales to over 25 foreign parties. Modernization programs have helped to evolve the F-16 in reaching all-new capabilities over the modern battlefield, allowing the system to retain a viable presence in the increasingly computer-controlled airspaces of today. Its multirole nature allows the standard aircraft design to undertake a variety of roles as required and customizability allows each operator to field local weaponry, systems and equipment as needed.

Despite its given name of "Fighting Falcon", the F-16 is also recognized under the nickname of "Viper". As it stands by today's classification conventions, the F-16 is deemed a "Fourth Generation Fighter" now that the Lockheed F-22 Raptor has officially ushered in the era of the "Fifth Generation Fighter". However, the costs associated with 5th generation types ensure that many 4th generation models will continue flying into the 2030s.

The F-16 in U.S. service (and perhaps elsewhere) is expected to be replaced by the highly touted Lockheed F-35 "Lightning II" stealth-minded strike fighter. However, mounting delays and cost overruns in the program have extended the useful service lives of existing Fourth Generation Fighters like the F-16s for the near future, prompting various modernization programs to be enacted in keep the aircraft flying for years to come. Additionally, the procurement costs associated with new technology will keep the F-16 a mainstay of foreign air powers for the foreseeable decade and perhaps beyond.

Falcon Roots

The F-16 was born from the USAF's LightWeight Fighter (LWF) program emerging in the early 1970s. The program intended to validate the prospect of a light, single-engine, single-seat fighter form against the norm of heavier, twin-engined designs which proved the call of the day. The field originally included submissions from Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed, LTV and Northrop but this was eventually whittled down to the two major players in General Dynamics and Northrop. General Dynamics put forth their "YF-16" against Northrop's "YF-17" and two prototypes each were allowed under the competition. The YF-16 went airborne for the first time on January 20th, 1974 and differentiated from the Northrop design by its single-engine approach (the YF-17 utilized two in a side-by-side arrangement). After a year of evaluations, the USAF formally selected the YF-16 as its LWF winner and production mounts took on the finalized F-16 designation, earning itself the nickname of "Fighting Falcon" (the YF-17 eventually evolved to be selected as the U.S. Navy's F/A-18 "Hornet" in another subsequent program).

After the USAF arranged for production to begin in 1975, the aircraft was also taken on by European parties aligned with American interests. This included the likes of Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands and Norway who agreed on localized production of the type. The first production-quality F-16 went airborne for the first time in 1978 marking the start of a now-storied aviation career.

At the time of its inception, the F-16 became the first production-quality military fighter to feature Fly-By-Wire (FBW) controlling. This was coupled to a "relaxed" airframe design to allow for maximum effort from the onboard digital processing scheme and improved responsiveness considerably.

F-16 Walk-Around

Externally, the F-16 became a well-contoured, streamlined aircraft with extensive blending used in the wings and fuselage. The pilot sat in a cockpit that was well-forward in the fuselage length, given a very commanding view of the surrounding area through a large, unobstructed canopy. The cockpit included a HOTAS (Hands-On Throttle And Stick) configuration (sidestick controller) for piloting efficiency as well as a noticeably-reclined (30-degrees) ejection seat. The nose cone housed the radar system which was coupled to in-flight systems and the weapon stores. The main wing appendages were swept along their leading edges and each wingtip supported an AIM-9 "Sidewinder" short-range air-to-air missile. The empennage consisted of a single vertical tail fin and a pair of horizontal planes. Ventral strakes were noted under the tail unit. The engine was buried deep within the fuselage and aspirated through an oblong air intake found under the cockpit and exhausted through a single ring at the base of the tail rudder. Each main wing supported multiple ordnance hardpoints with the inboard most plumbed for fuel stores. There also proved a centerline hardpoint, also plumbed, which helped to grant the aircraft considerably increased operating ranges. The undercarriage rather narrow-track in its arrangement and all-centralized around the belly. The undercarriage consisted of three single-wheeled legs with two main legs under center mass and a nose leg just aft and under the cockpit.

Armament-wise, the F-16 was granted a 20mm M61 Vulcan 6-barreled Gatling-type internal cannon for close-in work. Beyond its typical wingtip missile armament, the aircraft eventually supported medium-range air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, precision-guided munitions and conventional drop ordnance (cluster bombs, general purpose bombs, runway denial weapons, etc. ).

All told, the F-16 has evolved to become a proven, multi-faceted war machine which enables it undertake a plethora of mission types - from interception to patrol and general strike to anti-radar. Foreign buyers have also added localized ordnance options to the existing F-16 armament suite for a more customized approach to war. Beyond the given armament options, the F-16 also supports mission-specific equipment such as Electronic CounterMeasures (ECM) pods, targeting pods, sensor pods and chaff/flare dispenser pods. The original radar was the Westinghouse (Northrop Grumman) APG-66 series.

F-16 Maturation

The F-16 has matured along many variant lines since its adoption. The original single-seat multirole model was the F-16A and these were joined by two-seat F-16B models which added a second cockpit. In 1984, improved forms emerged as the F-16C and F-16D (single- and twin-seat models respectively). These brought about improved avionics and radar functionality as well as "all-weather" capability and ground strike qualities. In supporting the newer AIM-120 "AMRAAM" medium range air-to-air missile, the aircraft was granted a Beyond Visual Range (BVR) engagement/kill capability. The tail fin was extended slightly forward and a new wide-angled HUD was introduced. Production of F-16s has spanned across several notable "Blocks", each containing changes all their own. C/D models also made up the F-16N/TF-16N mounts used in US Navy aggressor training.

The popular F-16C "Block 50" model is powered by a single General Electric F110-GE-100 series afterburning turbofan engine outputting 17,150lbs of dry thrust and28,600lbs of thrust with reheat applied. The aircraft is capable of reaching speeds of 915 miles per hour (sea level, March 1.2) and can see speeds top Mach 2 in at altitude. Ferry range is 2,600 miles with fuel drop tanks applied while a combat radius under relatively heavy bomb load is equal to about 350 miles. The airframe can reach a service ceiling of 50,000 feet with a 50,000 feet-per-minute rate-of-climb - these qualities making it a sound, quick-responding interceptor.

The F-16 E- and F-models (single- and twin-seat versions respectively) are more offerings and feature the more powerful F110-132 series afterburning engine. They are also outfitted with AN/APG-80 AESA (Active Electronically-Scanned Array) radar and all-modern avionics. This particular model series formed the basis of the "F-16IN" ("Super Viper") intended for India's MRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) program but eventually dropped from contention. The similar F-16I designation marks a twin-seat development in use by the Israeli Air Force.

F-16 Operators

The F-16 has served across many air powers beyond the U.S. since its arrival. Procurement and, in some cases local production, were granted to allies in Belgium, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey (among others). The remerging Iraqi Air Force has relatively recently committed to the purchase of F-16 Fighting Falcons for its revitalized inventory (announced September 2010). These aircraft will carry the designation of "F-16IQ". The Japanese Air Force relies on a heavily-modified, dimensionally-larger and locally-produced version of the F-16 as the Mitsubishi "F-2". South Korean F-16s are recognized as "KF-16" and are produced locally by Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI). Italy operated as many as 30 leased (ex-USAF) F-16s between 2001 and 2012 but have since given up the type. Nevertheless, the F-16 certainly remains a potent and popular multirole performer.

F-16 Service

The F-16 happened to appear at a time when its combat services could be put to use rather immediately. The type stocked the US military at various levels (and service branches) and was also selected to headline the "Thunderbirds" aerial acrobat group. The first, high-level combat service ofF-16s occurred during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 where its multirole capabilities were put to good use in defeating the Iraqi air defense network. Following the war, the F-16 stayed on station in enforcing the "No Fly" zones over northern and southern Iraq. F-16s also participated with European air forces in joint operations over the Balkans during instability and civil warring in the region. Despite their several decades of service, F-16s remain a primary component of US air operations and should remain so for the near-future. The F-16 has also served well under combat conditions with Israel. Israeli F-16s proved particularly useful in its 1982 Lebanon War against Syrian fighters and remain in constant readiness for today's volatile Middle East region. Israeli F-16I Block 52 models feature Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFTs), advanced ECMs and a two-seat cockpit arrangement.

The F-16 design is certainly not without faults and several notable accidents and incidents have occurred to the line, some resulting in death, over the decades dating back to a Fort Worth, Texas incident on May 8th, 1975. The latest incident was the loss of a USAF aircraft and pilot on January 28th, 2013 over the Adriatic Sea near the Italian coast.

As a single-engine design, much faith is placed on reliability of the F-16 system to bring its pilot home safely. Twin-engined aircraft can rely on the power of a single installation in the event of failure to one unit. However, both expenses and complexity are ramped up in a twin-engined design.

The F-16XL Cranked-Arrow Falcon

The F-16XL existed as a technological offshoot of the base F-16 fighter line. The primary modification became its "cranked-arrow" delta wing design which allowed for better lift, control, range and ordnance carrying. Its primary purpose was initially to serve as a test platform for high-speed research though it did end up competing (unsuccessfully) against a modified two-seat McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle to replace the outgoing General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark interdictor strike-fighter. This emerged as the F-15E "Strike Eagle". Only two prototype F-16XLs were ever completed and both went on to serve NASA in the decades up to 2009.

The Proposed Navalized Falcon

The Vought "Model 1600" was a Vought/General Dynamics attempt to promote a navalized variant of the F-16 to the United States Navy. The proposed produce never matured with the F/A-18 Hornet being selected in its place. Interestingly, the F/A-18 held roots in the YF-17 which competed (unsuccessfully) against the YF-16.

The Falcon Future

Despite its excellence in service, the F-16 is a design built upon 1970s technology and operators have already - or will eventually - move on from the design to a more modern offering. Euro-players like Belgium are entertaining F-16 replacements and may lean in the direction of the Lockheed F-35 Lightning II Fifth Generation Aircraft. Other contenders include the Boeing Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, and Saab Gripen. Belgian F-16s are expected to serve into the early 2020s before replaced fully by 2029.

The last Fighting Falcons, these for the rebuilding air service of Iraq (through the F-16IQ models), will be delivered in 2017.

There remains potential that the nation of Pakistan will invest in the purchase of eight F-16 aircraft. These are expected to be delivered for 2019 should the deal pass through.

January 2021 - The first F-16V standard aircraft for the Hellenic Air Force has completed its first flight. The flight took place out of Tanagra Air Base outside of Athens on January 17th with the conversion work completed by Greece's own Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAB).

F-16 Fighting Falcon

On May 2, 2011, while on patrol near the Nuristan province of Afghanistan, U. S. Air Force Maj. John Caldwell peered out from the bubbled canopy of his F-16 and saw nothing but desert. Everything seemed still and silent. No action. No movement. And then, suddenly, a spark fizzled in the distance, what looked like a mortar flash emanating from a nearby mountainside.

Everything after that seemed to move at warp speed. Caldwell identified the coordinates of the blast, jetted his F-16 to the marker, and found a swarm of 90 insurgents ambushing a small Special Operations team of American and Allied forces.

He quickly swooped in, laid down strafing fire with his aircraft’s internal 20 mm gun to create distance between the insurgents and the team, pulled his aircraft up and came back around, and expertly dropped a satellite-guided JDAM bomb on the attackers, neutralizing the ambush.

It was a moment of skill and experience that earned Caldwell a Distinguished Flying Cross and highlighted the dynamic mix of speed and precision that earned the F-16 Fighting Falcon its more common pilot nickname--Viper.


Several commands of the United States Air Force (USAF) as well as the United States Navy (USN) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) use various models of the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

United States Air Force Edit

The USAF operates 1,245 F-16s with 701 with active forces, 490 with Air National Guard and 54 with Reserve. These are broken down to 1 F-16A Block 15, 197 F-16C/D Block 25, 350 F-16C/D Block 30, 51 F-16C/D Block 32, 222 F-16C/D Block 40, 174 F-16C/D Block 42, 198 F-16C/D Block 50, 52 F-16C/D Block 52. [1]

Air Combat Command Edit

Air Combat Command (ACC) is the descendant of the merger of the Tactical Air Command (TAC) and Strategic Air Command (SAC). ACC is the primary combat aircraft operator of the United States Air Force. Originally, all new F-16s would be delivered to TAC or ACC and then transferred to other commands, but now aircraft are often delivered directly to the other commands.

Air Education and Training Command Edit

The Air Education and Training Command (AETC) provides for most of the US Air Force's F-16 training facilities and operations. The command also provides for training of foreign air forces operating the F-16, with two squadrons providing training for Singapore and Taiwan.

The descendant of the merger of the Air Force Systems Command (AFSC) and the Air Force Logistics Command (AFLC), Air Force Materiel Command is responsible for providing, testing, and maintaining US Air Force equipment. As such, it plays a large part in the F-16 program, both in testing the aircraft and its weapon systems. It utilizes the F-16 for numerous tests for weapons equipping many US Air Force aircraft. Additionally, it operates overhaul programs to maintain the F-16 fleet of not only the US Air Force, but several foreign air forces as well.

Air Force Reserve Command Edit

The delivery of the F-16 to the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) marked the first aircraft type to be delivered new, changing the long policy of merely passing older airframes on from the active forces to the Air Force Reserve. AFRC currently operates Block 25, 30, and 32 aircraft.

Air National Guard Edit

As with the Air Force Reserve, the F-16 marked the transition of the Air National Guard (ANG) to a viable fighting force complementary to active-duty units, as opposed to the second-line force of out-of-date aircraft it had been. The F-16 remains a key part of the ANG force structure.

Pacific Air Forces Edit

Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) was an early recipient of the F-16 and PACAF operates the latest models of the F-16 today.

US Air Forces in Europe Edit

Once PACAF began receiving its F-16, US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) became a recipient of the F-16. USAFE F-16s have been common participants in most recent US military operations in Europe and the Middle East.

United States Navy Edit

While the United States Navy chose the competing McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet for development as a carrier-based strike fighter, the service still had a need for an aggressor aircraft to supplement the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and Northrop F-5E Tiger II aircraft posing as enemy fighters to help train Navy pilots in dissimilar air combat training (DACT). The lightweight F-16 was ideal for the job, and the F-16N version was specifically developed for the task. With removal of the internal cannon (compensated by ballast), the F-16N and two-seat TF-16N served for a number of years before retirement. The F-16 was reintroduced to the aggressor role for the US Navy with the acquisition of some of the Pakistani F-16A/B-15OCU aircraft embargoed before delivery to that country and they remain in use today at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) at NAS Fallon, Nevada. The US Navy operates 40 F-16s. [2]

National Aeronautics and Space Administration Edit

Though not a military force, NASA plays a vital role in research and development of aerospace technology. Its fleet contains two exotic F-16 models (bailed from USAF), the F-16XL and F-16A AFTI, both involved in researching advanced technologies for application to not only the F-16, but other aircraft as well. Additionally, a number of standard F-16s have been operated by NASA as chase aircraft and engine testbeds. [ citation needed ]

Once selected by the United States, it was further decided to form a partnership between the United States Air Force, then beginning development of the plane for service, and nations of the NATO alliance who had a similar need for a lightweight fighter. Four such nations chose to join the development effort, and became part as well of the production and sub-contracting work to build the Fighting Falcon. The four European partners, collectively known as the European Participating Governments (EPG), are Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway their air forces are likewise referred to as the European Participating Air Forces (EPAF).

Belgium Edit

Belgium was the largest initial buyer of the F-16 of the four original NATO partners, and Belgium's aeronautical company SABCA was a primary producer of the aircraft as part of the partnership. Belgium's initial order brought delivery of 116 F-16A/B aircraft in blocks 1, 5, 10, and 15, beginning in 1979, and was completed in 1985. A follow-on order for 44 F-16A/B-15OCU aircraft was completed in 1991. Most of the Danish F-16s were also manufactured in Belgium. Many of the Belgian and Danish F-16s received the MLU update at SABCA.

Denmark Edit

Denmark was the smallest member of the NATO partnership, with the Royal Danish Air Force accepting 58 F-16A/B aircraft under Denmark's initial order on January 28, 1980. [3] A small follow-on order brought a further twelve aircraft to Denmark, and two further attrition replacement orders were later placed, resulting in a total of 62 F-16AM and 16 F-16BM that entered Danish service. [4]

Netherlands Edit

The Netherlands, like Belgium, made substantial orders for the F-16, and built aircraft at the Fokker plant. Deliveries started in 1979 and ended in 1992. A total of 102 aircraft were initially ordered, but these were followed by substantial follow-on orders for a total of 111 additional aircraft. 52 of these were F-16A/B-15OCU aircraft. These orders brought total Dutch F-16A/B deliveries to 213. 108 of them received the Mid-Life-Update (MLU).

Norway Edit

Norway joined the original NATO-USAF partnership to replace its ageing Lockheed F-104 Starfighter squadrons. In 1975, Norway placed an order for 72 F-16A/B aircraft, delivered between 1980 and 1984. Unlike the other partners, there have been no follow-up orders, except for a single order in 1989 for two F-16B-15OCU aircraft as replacements for crashed aircraft. All the aircraft have received the Mid-Life-Update (MLU), and they received the new, helmet-mounted sighting system.

Greece Edit

After protracted negotiations the Hellenic Air Force ordered the F-16 in 1985. FMS program PEACE XENIA was begun with delivery of 40 F-16C/D Block 30 aircraft in 1989 and 1990. This was followed by an order for 40 F-16C/D Block 50 fighters, delivered in 1997 and 1998. In June 2000 a further order for 50 F-16C/D Block 52+ aircraft was made with an option of 10 more fighters, exercised in September 2001. All 60 aircraft (40 C-model aircraft and 20 missionized D-model) were delivered by June 2004. In December 2005 the Greek government signed an LOA for the delivery of 30 additional F-16C/D Block 52M with a not exercised option on 10 more. The latest batch consists of 20 C-models and 10 D-models, while deliveries were completed in 2009. On 28 April 2018, Greece decided to upgrade 85 of its F-16 to the F-16V standard. [5]

  • 330 Squadron Thunderbolt F-16C/D Block 30
  • 335 Squadron Tiger F-16C/D Block 52+ Advanced
  • 337 Squadron Ghost F-16C/D Block 52+
  • 340 Squadron Fox F-16C/D Block 52+
  • 341 Squadron Arrow F-16C/D Block 50
  • 343 Squadron Star F-16C/D Block 52+
  • 347 Squadron Perseus F-16C/D Block 50

Poland Edit

One of the former members of the Warsaw Pact that was looking to replace an aging fleet of Soviet-built Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 (withdrawn in service in 1999 due to their small numbers and uneconomical operation) and the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 fighters (withdrawn from service in 2003), Poland conducted a competition between the Mirage 2000-5 Mk.2, the JAS 39 Gripen, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 (the last offer was withdrawn), and the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Despite a strong challenge by the BAe/SAAB team, Poland purchased 48 F-16C/D-52+ aircraft. The aircraft were delivered from 2006 under the PEACE SKY program, to avoid confusion with the PZL W-3 Sokół (Polish language "Falcon") helicopter, these jet fighters were nicknamed the F-16 Jastrząb (Goshawk) in Polish. Now, the F-16, along with 32 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 fighters and 48 Sukhoi Su-22 ground attack aircraft are the main offensive strike force for Polish Air Force.

There were problems with the introduction of the Polish F-16s and they were often grounded with faults, they were given an unofficial nickname "nielot" (a flightless bird). [6] [7]

There have also been delays in the offset program, the United States has not made all the promised investments in Poland that were part of the deal. Offset deals in 2011 reached $6 billion out of $6.028 billion planned ($9.8 billion at time when offer was chosen), however only one-third of recognised offsets commitment were direct investments in Polish economy. [8] [9]

According to a former Polish military defence vice-minister, the offer for JAS 39 Gripen was a better deal. [10] F-16s cost $3.5 billion, compared to 3.2 billion euro for Saab's Gripen, and 3.6 billion euro for Dassault offer, [11] at a time when both currencies had a similar value.

Portugal Edit

The Portuguese Air Force chose the F-16 during the 1980s to replace its aging and obsolescent LTV A-7 Corsair II attack aircraft which were no longer suitable for air-to-air combat and were facing severe logistical problems. [12] [13] [14]

The Portuguese Foreign Military Sales program is known as Peace Atlantis.

Peace Atlantis I Edit

In August 1990 the government of then-Prime Minister Aníbal Cavaco Silva signed a Letter Of Acceptance (LoA) which lead to the creation of the Peace Atlantis I program. The funds used for the purchase were made available through the Foreign Military Sales program, partly a payment for the use by the United States of Lajes Air Base in the Azores. Initially the United States proposed to supply Portugal with Block 10 surplus aircraft. However this option rested on a first order of 20 newly built F-16 Block 15 OCU (17 A-models and three B-models) with Pratt & Whitney F100 engines, which made them almost identical to the US Air National Guard's F-16 ADF. Deliveries of this first order began on February 18, 1994, and was completed on July 18 in the same year.

The initial group of Portuguese F-16 pilots was constituted by fighter pilots from the 302 and 304 Squadrons, received training in Tucson, Arizona, between January and June 1994.

During the War in Kosovo, it was seen that while the Portuguese F-16s were recently obtained, they were no longer up to the same level as most modern fighters used by other NATO countries. In 1999, during the Portuguese participation in the conflict (Operation Allied Force), the three F-16 fighters deployed by Portugal were relegated to escort missions and combat air patrols due to their lack of modern armament and air-to-ground targeting systems. [ citation needed ]

Peace Atlantis II Edit

During 1996, during the government of then-Prime Minister António Guterres, new negotiations took place concerning the possible purchase of new of F-16 fighters and the modernization those aircraft. The Pentagon approved of the deal on November 20, 1997, and on November 30, 1998, Portugal signed the Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LoA) for 25 second-hand F - 16 Block 15 (21 A and four B) that had been used by the U.S. Air National Guard. Under the program these would be offered by the United States at zero cost and free of charge as Excess Defense Articles under the Southern Regional Amendment to the Arms Export and Control Act, with Portugal being responsible for their transportation to Europe and for the modernization costs.

Included in the LoA and in the Peace Atlantis II program was also the purchase of new Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220E engines, 20 upgrade kits, logistics support and training.

Initially, the plan consisted in only upgrading the second-hand aircraft of the Peace Atlantis II program and of transferring the F-16s from the Peace Atlantis I to a second squadron with the mission of performing tactical air support actions and tactical air support for maritime operations (TASMO), which wouldn't require the MLU kit.

Of the second-hand F-16s, five of the airframes were used as spare parts, and only the remaining 20 F-16s were intended for upgrade for day & night all-weather operations, by receiving the Falcon UP structural upgrade, the F100-PW-220E engine upgrade and the Mid-Life update (MLU) avionics and cockpit upgrade, to equip the 301 Squadron.

Current status Edit

The Mid-Life upgrade (MLU) was performed in Portugal by the Air Force's workshops at Monte Real and by OGMA in Alverca. In 2001, employees of the LMTAS modified the first two aircraft in a Lead-the-Fleet program, with Portuguese technicians observing. The first F-16 AM was delivered in June 2003, and the PoAF personnel performed the modification of the remaining 18 aircraft.

Currently the Portuguese F-16 fleet uses the AN/ALQ-131 ECM pods, that had originally been bought for the A-7P Corsair IIs, and the new Rafael LITENING II targeting pods. One aircraft has been preserved for public display and two aircraft have been lost in accidents. [15]

In 2006 the Portuguese government put 12 F-16 for sale. [12] On September 25, 2012, Romania and Portugal started negotiations for the sale of 12 used F-16s from Portugal in a deal worth $600 million. Aircraft are to be delivered to Romania over the next five years. [16] [17] [18] [19] On October 11, 2013, the Romanian National Defense Ministry announced the signing of the contract for the purchase of 12 used F16. [20] After the sale the Portuguese fleet will consist of 30 F-16 planes. To enable this, 3 ex-USAF F-16s (2 x F-16AM and 1 x F-16BM) were delivered in 2019. [21]

Portuguese Air Force
Operating units Model Location
201 Squadron "Falcões" F-16 AM
F-16 BM
Air Base No. 5, Monte Real
301 Squadron "Jaguares"

Romania Edit

On 24 March 2010, Romania's Supreme Defense Council approved the purchase of 24 refurbished F-16C/D Block 25 aircraft from the U.S. Air Force inventory. The first batch of aircraft was scheduled to arrive in 2013. Total cost for the aircraft was estimated at US$1.4 billion. [22] Romania failed to pay the first installment on the aircraft, even though it was delayed from 3 June to 3 August. [23]

On 27 September 2012, Romania's Supreme Defense Council approved a plan to buy 12 used F-16s from Portugal in a deal worth 670 million euros. The aircraft will be delivered over the next five years and will enter operational service in 2016 after pilot training. [24] Romania was to complete negotiations and finalization of documents with Portugal by the end of May, and with the U.S. by September. 120 million euros will pay for the aircraft, with the rest paying for logistic support. The 12 F-16s will replace 48 MiG-21s in Romanian service. [25] Legislation regarding the F-16 deal was passed by the country's Chamber of Deputies in June 2013 and on 12 July 2013, Romanian President Traian Băsescu formally approved the purchase. [26] On 11 October 2013, Romania completed the purchase of 12 Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons with MLU package from Portugal. [27] The package is worth $252.6 million/186.2 million euros, and includes nine former Portuguese Air Force aircraft and three former U.S. Air Force aircraft supplied to Portugal for the resale under the U.S. Excess Defense Article program. Nine aircraft are single-seat and three are twin-seat. Portugal will receive 78 million euros for the sale, and the rest will be spent acquiring and upgrading the U.S. surplus aircraft and associated equipment. The first F-16 is scheduled to be delivered in 2016 with initial operational capability achieved in 2017. [28]

The Romanian Armed Forces intend to buy 12 more Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcons by 2020 to equip a second squadron. After that, the Romanian Air Force plans to buy 24 F-16s of a newer generation by 2025, probably Block 50s. [29]

On 27 September 2016, the first six F-16 MLUs entered service within the Romanian Air force. The ceremony took place in Portugal at the 5th Airbase Monte Real. [30] The First F-16 Squadron will enter active service in the 53rd Fighter Squadron at the 86th Airbase in Fetesti. [31]

In March 2019, the Romanian Ministry of Defence launched the procedure to procure an additional 36 F-16 aircraft. [32]

In April 2019, the Romanian Ministry of Defence announced the Romanian Air Force would procure an additional five F-16s from Portugal, potentially receiving them before the end of the year. [33] [34]

Turkey Edit

The Turkish Air Force is the world's third largest operator of the F-16, following the US and Israel. Turkey became one of the nations to indigenously produce the F-16, under a license from Lockheed Martin. Turkey initially received in total 240 F-16s. However, a further 30 were ordered in 2007. All Turkish F-16s are built by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). Each new aircraft had to visit American territory under the terms of the PEACE ONYX Foreign Military Sales program before being turned over to the Turkish Air Force. In 2005, Turkey signed a $1.1 billion avionics upgrade package, based on the USAF's Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP). In addition to this, the Turkish Air Force put a firm order for 30 more F-16 Block 50+, to be built by TAI. [35] As of 2016, all existing F16s are now in Block 50+ 'Viper' configuration. On 24 March 2019, the Turkish State Secretariat for Defence officially confirmed that a further upgrade with ASELSAN for the modernisation of THK's entire F-16 fleet with a domestic AESA radar and a new indigenous EW-self-protection suite by 2021. [36]

Bahrain Edit

The small country of Bahrain originally ordered the F-16 in 1987, agreeing to buy eight Block 40 F-16Cs and four F-16Ds under the PEACE CROWN program. These aircraft arrived prior to the first Persian Gulf War. After this, with the increasing military presence of the United States, Bahrain sought further enhancement of its air force and the replacement of its F-5 Tiger II fighters. Initial talks centered on the F-16N being withdrawn from service with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, but ultimately, it was decided to purchase ten new Block 40 F-16C aircraft. Bahrain ordered an additional 16 F-16 Block 70s in November 2017. [37]

Egypt Edit

Since the historic Camp David accords, Egypt has actively sought to re-equip its military with western weapons. Thus, it has become a large customer for the F-16 Fighting Falcon, which fits well with Egyptian defense needs. No fewer than six separate PEACE VECTOR programs have delivered 42 F-16A/B-15, 40 F-16C/D-32, and 138 F-16C/D-40 fighters to the Egyptian Air Force by 2002. [38] In March 2010 it was announced that Egypt would purchase an additional 20 Block 52 aircraft (16 F-16Cs and 4 F-16Ds). [39] The Egyptian Air Force operated 220 F-16s at that point, making it the world's 4th largest F-16 operator. [40] 4 of the F-16s ordered were delivered on 3 February 2013, raising the number of aircraft delivered to 224. The remaining 16 will be delivered through 2013. [41] Following the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état, the Pentagon had said deliveries of the jets would continue. On 24 July 2013 however, President Barack Obama announced the F-16 deliveries would be halted due to continuing political unrest. [42] In March, 2015 the US announced the resumption of the deliveries of the F-16s, the last of which was delivered in October, 2015. [43] [44]

Israel Edit

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is the second largest user of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, second only to the U.S. Air Force and its reserve components. The IAF achieved the type's first air-to-air victories when IAF pilots shot down two aircraft, a Mi-8 helicopter and a MiG-21 Fishbed fighter plane, both Syrian, in April and July 1981. [45]

The IAF took delivery of its first F-16s earlier than expected after the cancellation of the sale of F-16s to the Iranian Air Force. The IAF had announced plans to buy 75 F-16s as early as 1978, and deliveries were carried out under American Foreign Military Sales program Peace Marble I. These F-16As and Bs received the nickname Hebrew "Netz" (Hawk). Peace Marble II witnessed the delivery of a further 75 block 30 F-16Cs and F-16Ds to the IAF. Israel's F-16 fleet was further expanded by Peace Marble III, which brought 30 block-40 F-16Cs and 30 two-seat F-16Ds to the IAF between 1991 and 1993. These newer models were nicknamed "Barak" ("lightning"). In part to reward Israel for its restraint during the Gulf War, a shipment of 50 US-surplus F-16As and F-16Bs were delivered in 1994.

In a deal worth $4.5 billion, Israel also ordered 102 additional block 52+ F-16Ds, designated the F-16I nicknamed "Sufa" (Storm). Deliveries of these took place between 2004 and 2009. [46]

In July 2013, Israel began a program called Teuza (boldness) for the purpose of turning some military bases into sales lots for obsolete IDF equipment. Older models that are not suited for Israel's modern high-tech forces will be sold off, or sold for scrap if there are no buyers. Old-model F-16 jets are among those being offered. Main buyers are expected from Latin American, Asian, and African countries. [47] Later that month, Major General Amir Eshel ordered the immediate shutdown of two squadrons of F-16A/B fighters, without any advance warning to the squadrons' air and ground crews. The shutdown was because of military cuts and the mission capability of one F-16I compared to several older models. The aging F-16A/Bs were planned to be decommissioned in 2017 with the arrival of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. The decision was made to advance the retirement of the aging platforms. One F-16A/B squadron continued to serve as an advanced jet trainer unit until the deliveries of Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master aircraft began in 2014. [48] The final F-16A/B aircraft were retired on 26 Dec 2016. [49]

Iraq Edit

The Iraqi Air Force was looking to buy 36 F-16s for its air force in late 2008 in place of phased-out Russian and Chinese fighters during Saddam Hussein's regime acquired before and during the Iran–Iraq War. [50] [51] In the spring of 2009, the decision was made to spend $1.5 billion on an initial order of 18 F-16 fighters. Later purchases could bring the total buy to 96. [52] The first set was to be delivered by 2014, with all 36 currently ordered delivered by 2018. [53]

The first F-16IQ Block 52 fighter was delivered to Iraq on 5 June 2014, making it the 28th country to receive the F-16. The fighter was the first of six two-seat D-models. F-16IQs can be armed with AIM-9L/M Sidewinder and AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles, AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missiles, and Paveway guided bombs. [54] Due to advances made by Islamic State militants in mid-2014 which forced the evacuation of contractors from Balad Air Base, Iraqi F-16s were sent to Tucson, Arizona, where Iraqi pilots trained on their aircraft. [55] 4 F-16 IQs were delivered to Balad Air Base on 13 July 2015. The last F-16 was delivered to the Iraq airforce on November 14, 2017.

Jordan Edit

Like Egypt, Jordan opened the door to modern American arms sales by reaching a peace agreement with Israel, this one in 1994. Jordan then arranged for a lease of air defense F-16s from the United States, and to transfer ownership eventually. The program was successful, providing Jordan with 16 F-16A/B ADF fighters in 1997 and 1998 under Peace Falcon I program, RJAF recognized the need to give these aircraft a mid-life update (MLU) in the next 2 or 3 years. (2 F-16A Block 15 ADF aircraft crashed over the years of service). [56] A second Peace Falcon II program delivered a further 17 aircraft of similar type. All of the 17 F-16A/B upgraded by TAI to F-16AM/BM MLU standard. In 2005, Jordan purchased 16 F-16AM/BM Peace Falcon III from Belgium. [57] Later the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) pursued more second hand purchases in 2006 6 F-16BM Peace Falcon IV purchased from RNLAF, [58] An additional 9 F-16AM/BM Peace Falcon V delivered in July/Aug 2011 from Belgium, [56] the purchase totaled 31 aircraft, putting the RJAF in a good position with 62 F-16s.

Peace Falcon I Edit

On July 29, 1996, a $220 million agreement was signed between the United States and Jordan authorizing the lease of 16 F-16 fighter jets (12 F-16A and 4 F-16B aircraft) to Jordan. This agreement, formally signed by Field Marshal Marei, chief of staff of the Royal Jordanian Armed Forces and Major General Ababneh, chief of staff of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, was linked to the Middle East peace process and close US-Jordanian relations. The complete material/training support agreement, known as the F-16 Peace Falcon Program, includes funding for aircraft structural upgrades, engine modifications, support equipment and spare parts procurement, and pilot/maintenance training.

The agreement consisted of two lease contracts and a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LoA). The first lease was a no-cost lease for Jordan, covering 13 aircraft (12 A models and 1 B model, block 15 OCUs that were modified into ADF (Air Defense Fighters) versions. Under the Arms Export Control Act, the DOD was able to provide these aircraft at a no-cost lease because they had flown off over 75 percent of their life (i.e. more than 3,000 hour). Three of the B-model aircraft still had more than 25 percent of their life left and they fall under the second $4.5 million lease. Both leases cover a 5-year period. The LOA is for $215 million, covering all costs associated with upgrading those aircraft, doing the structural modifications to them, the engine upgrades, providing the support equipment, the logistics, the training.

The aircraft, all of which have flown previously by active Air Force and Air National Guard units, had been in storage for at least a year at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC) at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Arizona before they were shipped to Hill AFB, Utah. There the Aircraft Directorate personnel from the Ogden Air Logistics Center performed structural upgrades to extend aircraft life from the designed 4,000 to 8,000 hours flying time as part of the Falcon-Up/Service Life Improvement program. They also modified the aircraft engine bay to accept the upgraded Pratt and Whitney F100-220E engine. New ground was broken with this Foreign military Sales program: taking 'used' F-16s from the desert (AMARC), completely refurbishing and modifying them and delivering the aircraft to the customer within a 17-month time frame.

On October 14, 1997 Lt. Col. Scott Curtis, flying safety officer at Hill AFB, pushed the throttles forward and released the brakes on his F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft. Within a matter of seconds the aircraft accelerated to 140 knots and the first Jordanian F-16 (tail number #80-0547) was airborne. It took more than 13,000 man-hours to get this F-16 ready for its first flight. The #80-0547 had not flown since November 1994, when it was flown from the ANG Station in Garden City, N.J. to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center, Davis-Monthan, Arizona. The official roll-out of the Peace Falcon was on October 28, 1997, on Hill AFB, Utah.

The Jordan program required that six aircraft be available for ferry flight delivery to Jordan in December 1997, and five each to be available for ferry flight in January and February 1998. At that time, the RJAF planned to acquire as much as 60-70 F-16s (if possible C/D models), enough to equip 3 squadrons.

Peace Falcon II Edit

There have been talks about a second batch of 16 refurbished F-16s, which would have been delivered under the Peace Falcon II program. After initial talks in 1999, no further news has become available about this program. The RJAF is still looking for a replacement for its obsolete F-5 fighters which are due within a couple of years. They are in favor of acquiring another batch of F-16s for this replacement.

On January 29, 2003, numerous sources indicated that Jordan received 6 F-16 fighters that day in a ceremony held at Shahid Muafaq Al-Satlti AFB. This ceremony was attended by prince Faisal bin Hussain and US ambassador Jordan Edward W. Gnehm. The US embassy in Amman stated that these 6 aircraft were the first of a batch of another 17 (12 F-16As and 5 F-16Bs) that would be delivered to Jordan during the year 2003. All these aircraft are former US ANG F-16 ADFs. These aircraft are to be upgraded with the MLU modification (See Modifications and Armament).

Ultimately, 16 A-models and 1 B-model was delivered to the RJAF. Most of those airframes were put into storage waiting for their MLU conversion. In 2008 these modifications were in full swing at the TUSAS facility in Ankara, Turkey. By 2009 all of those modified airframes will be delivered back to Jordan for operational use.

Peace Falcon III Edit

In 2005 the RJAF contacted the Dutch and Belgian governments for a batch of F-16s. In April 2006 representatives of both air forces flew to Amman to sign a Letter of Intent for the acquisition of up to 22 ex-Dutch (8 airframes) and ex-Belgian (14 airframes) F-16s. The lot would consist of 17 A-models and 5 B-models (Netherlands: 5 A-models, 3 B-models Belgium: 12 A-models, 2 B-models). All these aircraft have undergone the MLU upgrade which gives the Jordanians a serious boost in air power and also a sneak preview of the possibilities they will gain after their entire fleet is upgraded with this package. The aircraft are due to be delivered in 2007–2008.

In 2009 a total of 16 Belgian F-16s (12 As and 4 Bs) were delivered, but the Dutch order for A-models was canceled. By that time it became apparent that only the 3 B-models of the first purchase from the Netherlands and the 3 B-models included in the second purchase would be handed over to Jordan during 2009 as part of Peace Falcon IV.

Peace Falcon IV Edit

The Dutch Secretary of Defence announced at the Dubai Air Show in November 2005 that he had signed a Letter of Intent for the purchase of 3 F-16Bs by the RJAF. The aircraft were to be used as training assets and are due for delivery in 2006.

In the end, the number of F-16BMs was raised to 6. The delivery of those was postponed until the summer of 2009.

Peace Falcon V Edit

In 2009 the Belgian government decided to put another 9 F-16AMs for sale. The first country to respond was Jordan and negotiations have been ongoing till 2011. Finally the delivery consisted of 6 F-16AMs and 3 F-16BMs, all delivered in July 2011. The number of Jordanian F-16s rises to 64 airframes with this delivery.

On 24 December 2014, a Jordanian F-16 crashed in Syria after being allegedly shot down by ISIS. The pilot, First Lieutenant Mu'ath Safi Yousef al-Kasasbeh, was captured by ISIS militants. [59] [60] On 3 February 2015, a video posted on ISIS-linked Jihadi websites, showed al-Kasasbeh being burned alive. [61]

Oman Edit

In May 2002, the Sultanate of Oman signed an agreement with the U.S. government to purchase 12 Advanced Block 50 F-16s in the PEACE A'SAMA A'SAFIYA ("Clear Skies") Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The agreement includes eight single-seat F-16Cs and four two-seat F-16Ds. [62] On 23 August 2010 Peace A'sama A'safiya II contract was signed which saw a further ten F-16C and two F-16Ds delivered in 2014. [63]

United Arab Emirates Edit

The United Arab Emirates operates the newer F-16 variants, the F-16 Block 60 F-16E (single seat) and F-16F (two seat), unofficially called the F-16 Desert Falcon. [64] The aircraft has been developed especially for the United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF) and features improved AN/APG-80 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, avionics, conformal fuel tanks (CFTs), and the more powerful General Electric F110-GE-132 engine. [65] [66] The United Arab Emirates invested in its development and generate royalty payment for operators buying it. [64]

Morocco Edit

The Bush administration announced plans to sell Morocco 24 F-16C/D fighters and 24 T-6B trainers aircraft valued at up to $2.6 billion on 27 December 2007. [67] The sale was officially announced on 6 June 2008 [68] and deliveries commenced in July 2011. [69] All F-16s were delivered by the end of August 2012. [70]

On March 25, 2019 - The U.S government has approved the sale of 25 new F-16 Block 72s and related equipment for an estimated cost of $3.787 billion to Morocco [71] as well as an upgrade package to bring the existing 23 F-16 Block 50/52+ up to the very similar F-16V standard plus the related equipment for an estimated cost of $985.2 million. [72]

Indonesia Edit

The Indonesian Air Force operates a mix of F-16A/B Block 15 OCU and F-16C/D Block 32+ (locally promoted as Block 52ID). In 1989, Indonesia received a single allotment of 8 F-16A and 4 F-16Bs. Two F-16s were lost in accidents leaving the fleet with only ten F-16s. [73] A purchase of nine more aircraft was cancelled in favor of 12 Su-30KI, however this order was later also cancelled due to the Asian Financial Crisis. [74] [75] The Indonesian Air Force was planning to upgrade their F-16A and B aircraft to F-16C/D variants by the end of 2009, and there was an option of purchasing new F-16C/Ds to replace their retired, but in reserve, F-5E Tiger IIs. [76] 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 US lifted the arms embargo in 2005 and the US has since delivered 24 refurbished F-16 fighters to add to ten older models. [77] The total estimated cost was $750 million, and that included an upgrade to near Block 52 standard. [78] [79] With the retirement of their F-5 Tiger II airplanes, the Indonesian Air Force was seeking additional airplane types well suited for air defense role. In February 2018 Indonesia signed a purchase contract to buy eleven Sukhoi Su-35 fighters in a US$1.1 billion deal. [80] Lockheed Martin was offering F-16V Viper as a cheaper alternative than the Russian planes. Indonesia is currently upgrading their F-16A/B under the "EMLU-Falcon STAR" project. Indonesian Air Force have plans to purchase 32 F-16V Block 70/72 in 2020-2024 for MEF (Minimum Essential Force) Phase III program but the Ministry of Defense is interested in purchasing F-15X/EX Eagle II and Dassault Rafale instead. [81] [82] [83] [84] [85] [86]

The Indonesian Foreign Military Sales program is known as PEACE BIMASENA.

Pakistan Edit

Pakistan was an early customer of the F-16, seeking to counter a heavy Soviet presence in Afghanistan, in addition to countering its traditional rival, India. An initial order for 40 aircraft was delivered in two installments, and led to a further order for 71 more F-16A/B-15OCU aircraft. Due to political developments relating to Pakistan's nuclear program, these aircraft were embargoed before delivery. 28 aircraft remained in storage while other buyers were sought (and a 10 year lease to the Royal New Zealand Air Force fell through) due to a change in government, but ultimately it was decided that the aircraft would be put into service with the US Air Force and Navy as aggressor aircraft. The remaining aircraft on order had work stopped before completion.

The Pakistani Foreign Military Sales program is known as PEACE GATE.

In November 2006, the Pakistan Air Force signed a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) for 18 new-built F-16C/D Block 52, 28 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 18 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. [87]

In December 2009 the first F-16/D block 52 rolled out for PAF. First batch arrived in Pakistan in May 2010, 17 F-16C/D were delivered to PAF by the end of December 2010. [88] One F-16D used for testing joined PAF in 2012 along with two examples upgraded to MLU in USA. [89]

In April 2014, the PAF received a batch of five F-16s it had bought used from Jordan. The total order is for 13 aircraft. [90]

Singapore Edit

The Republic of Singapore Air Force began as a small F-16 user, but has a steadily growing fleet. It has operated the aircraft since 1988, when the first of its initial order for 8 F-16A/B-15OCU arrived. Since then, it has begun ordering multiple installments of F-16C/D Block 52/52+ aircraft, totalling 74 of the advanced fighters. Ongoing upgrade to Block 70/72 Super Viper.

The Singapore Foreign Military Sales program is known as PEACE CARVIN.

    Air Combat Command (ACC)
      Fighter Group (FG)
        Osprey F-16 C/D Phoenix F-16 C/D Hornet F-16 D+

      South Korea Edit

      Facing a need for advanced aircraft to counter North Korea's numerical superiority, Republic of Korea Air Force was quick to order the F-16 to meet its needs with a 1981 order for 36 F-16C/D Block 32 aircraft (later 4 F-16Ds added by profit from exchange rate fluctuation), making it the first operator for the C/D model outside of the United States. A more ambitious program (Korean Fighter Program) to provide 120 new fighters was initially lost to the F/A-18 Hornet, but various difficulties led to the order going to the F-16C/D Block 52D (KF-16C/D), 72 of which were to be manufactured in South Korea, 36 of which were to be delivered in kit form and assembled in South Korea, and 12 of which were to be produced in Fort Worth, U.S.A.. In 2000, a further 20 Korean-built F-16s were added. [91]

      The South Korean Foreign Military Sales program is known as PEACE BRIDGE.

      In May 2009, South Korean government announced upgrade plan for its KF-16C/D fleet's radar and armament, as part of the 2010-2014 arms acquisition and management package being submitted to President Lee Myung-bak for approval. The ROKAF operates about 135 of the “KF-16” fighters, many of which were built in Korea under a $5.5 billion licensing agreement from 1994 to 2004. Key upgrades will include new radars to replace the existing APG-68v5/v7 systems, avionics and computers, and improving cabling and databuses to MIL-STD-1760 so that the aircraft will be able to carry GPS-guided weapons, AIM-9X Sidewider missiles, and other new equipment.

      In March 2014, the South Korean Air Force revealed that it was considering leasing F-16s operated by the U.S. Air Force. ROKAF F-4 and F-5 fighters were intended to be replaced through the F-X III competition by 2016 and the development of the KF-X indigenous fighter, but F-X III deliveries were delayed until 2018 and the KF-X won't enter service until 2023. With the aging fighters still needing to be retired, between 20 and 60 American F-16s are being reviewed for leasing to sustain aircraft numbers. South Korea had previously leased U.S. T-38 Talon trainers for over a decade until the completion of the KAI T-50 Golden Eagle, but a country leasing a combat fighter is very rare due to risk of increased costs if they need to be used in a conflict situation. [92]

      Taiwan (Republic of China) Edit

      Taiwan (Republic of China) is a major F-16 customer, although it has placed only a single order for the aircraft. In 1992, 150 F-16A/B-20 aircraft were ordered while at the same time Taiwan ordered 60 Dassault Mirage 2000 and launched its own indigenous fighter program, the AIDC Ching-Kuo. Delivery of all F-16s was completed in 2001.

      Taiwan's foreign military sales program is known as PEACE FENGHUANG (Peace Phoenix).

      The Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF), needing a next generation fighter to replace its fleet of F-5s, has expressed interest in the new F-35 Lightning II. However, due to political issues, it is unlikely it 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. [93] As with all military purchases, Beijing has expressed opposition to the sale. [94] However Obama agreed to a $5.3 billion deal to upgrade Taiwan's current fleet of F-16 A/B Block 20s to configuration similar to that of the proposed F-16V standard with AESA radars. [95] Upgrades for the first four fighters will be completed in 2018, with all fighters upgraded by 2023. [96] In 2019, Taiwan received its first F-16V. [97]

      In August 2019, the Trump administration approved the sale of up to 66 new F-16 Block 70 worth up to $8 billion to Taiwan. [98] [99]

      Thailand Edit

      The Royal Thai Air Force initially considered a candidate to purchase the F-16/79. Thailand's first order was ultimately for 12 F-16A/B-15OCU fighters, immediately bolstered by a further 6 F-16A-15OCU planes. 18 more aircraft were received in 1995, the last new-production block 15 aircraft built. [ citation needed ] An attempt to buy F/A-18 Hornets failed, and in place of them, the US offered to sell USAF F-16ADFs Excess Defense Articles. [ citation needed ] A total of 18 examples were bought. In early 2005, the Royal Thai Air Force received 3 F-16A-15OCU and 4 F-16B-15OCU from the Republic of Singapore Air Force. [ citation needed ] The Thai Foreign Military Sales program is known as PEACE NARESUAN.

      In 2011, 18 F-16A/B-15 OCU from 403 Sqd. will be upgraded to F-16 MLU. [ citation needed ]

      Chile Edit

      The Chilean Air Force selected the F-16 as the winner of a long-running competition to provide the nation's next generation of fighter aircraft in 2000. The F-16 competed successfully against the JAS 39 Gripen, the Dassault Mirage 2000, and the F-18 Hornet. Chile has already received all of its ten F-16C/D Block 50+ aircraft. The deal for six C and four D model aircraft was valued at $600 million in 2002 and was conducted under the program name PEACE PUMA. Eighteen surplus F-16A/B MLU aircraft (11 F-16AM and 7 F-16BM) were bought from the Netherlands in 2005, and were delivered by mid-2006. [100] In late 2008, the Chilean Ministry of Defense expressed its interest in buying 18 more aircraft from the Netherlands, [101] which was later confirmed in April 2009. [102]

      The Chilean F-16 Block 50s can be armed with US missile such as the AIM-120 and AIM-9 Sidewinder, and Israeli made missiles Derby, Python IV and Python V.

      The Air Force of Chile F-16s are part of the following units:

      • 1st Air Brigade (I Brigada Aérea) in Los Condores Air Base.
        • 3rd Aviation Group (Grupo de Aviación Nº 3).
        • 7th Aviation Group (Grupo de Aviación Nº 7).
        • 8th Aviation Group (Grupo de Aviación Nº 8).

        Venezuela Edit

        The first – and for a long time the only – Latin American user of the F-16, Venezuela ordered a total of 24 F-16A/B Block 15 aircraft in May 1982 under the PEACE DELTA program the U.S. government originally offered the F-16/J79 version, but eventually authorized sale of the standard Block 15 version. [103] Deliveries of 18 ‘A’ models and 6 ‘B’ models began in September 1983 and were completed in 1985. Since entering operational service in 1984, these fighters have served with 161st and 162nd Fighter Squadron of Fighter Air Group 16 at El Libertador Airbase, Palo Negro. The Venezuelan Air Force had wanted to order a further batch of 24 aircraft, but was unable to afford the purchase. [104]

        Venezuela has been seeking two attrition replacements for lost F-16s since late 1997, [105] but has not been able to obtain them due to financial problems and souring relations between the United States and the government of President Hugo Chávez. On 15 May 2006, the U.S. government announced that it would enact a ban on arms sales to Venezuela to become effective at the beginning of October of that year. This embargo was expected to soon render Venezuela's F-16 fleet non-operational, and General Alberto Muller, a military advisor to President Chávez, responded to the embargo announcement with a threat to sell Venezuela's remaining 21 F-16s to Iran. [106] Subsequently, the Chávez government decided to pursue replacement of its American-sourced military aircraft inventory with Russian aircraft, and in mid-June 2006 it was revealed that Venezuela had recently ordered several Sukhoi Su-30s. [107]

        Venezuela's F-16s have been modified to use the Israeli Python IV IR-guided air-to-air missile. [108] They are also capable of carrying the Rafael LITENING II targeting pod.

        Operating Units Model Location
        16º Grupo Aéreo de Caza "Dragones" El Libertador Airbase, Palo Negro
        Escuadrón de Caza 161 "Caribes" F-16A/B Block 15 El Libertador Airbase, Palo Negro
        Escuadrón de Caza 162 "Gavilanes" F-16A/B Block 15 El Libertador Airbase, Palo Negro

        Italy Edit

        Italy has decided on the Eurofighter Typhoon as its next generation of air-defense fighter, however this aircraft faced delivery delays for some time. In the meantime, 24 Panavia Tornado ADV jets from the United Kingdom were leased to cover the gap. This lease ran out in 2003, without the Typhoon being ready for service. The solution was provided by a five-year lease of 34 F-16 aircraft with an option to extend the lease for another five years. 30 aircraft were F-16A/B-15ADF while the remaining four aircraft were earlier block aircraft for spares. These were all used U.S. Air Force fighters.

        In June 2010, the Italian Air Force started the return of the F-16s to the United States which was completed on 23 May 2012, when all the Italian F-16 were returned to the US. [109]

        The Italian Foreign Military Sales program was known as PEACE CAESAR.

        Bulgaria Edit

        It was reported in December 2012 that Bulgaria was going to negotiate buying 8 or 9 second-hand fighter jets. Among the contenders were the Swedish Gripen, second-hand Italian Eurofighters and second-hand Portuguese F-16s. [110] Later, in January 2013, it was reported that the Bulgarian Defense Ministry was expected to buy nine F-16s from Portugal. [111] The final phase of the initial preparations was to be started by the middle of 2013. [112] However, widespread protests led to the resignation of the Borisov cabinet, which delayed all government plans and activities.

        A new round of negotiations for the purchase of second-hand Greek F-16s had started by the middle of 2014. [113] Possible negotiations with the US were also expected, with hopes of reaching a decision over the procurement in 2015. [114] In July 2015, the government of Bulgaria approved negotiations with Belgium, the Netherlands and Greece for the procurement of second-hand F-16s. The increasingly pressing issue of MiG-29 maintenance, which had been pushing on the deadlines of the procurement, was expected to be resolved by an agreement with Poland for the repairs of the jets' engines. [115] The decision was further delayed beyond 2015 because no money had been set aside for the purchase. To alleviate the issue of air defence, the Ministry of Defence proposed to allow other NATO members to conduct air-policing missions with the Bulgarian Air Force. By then, only four Bulgarian MiG-29s had enough flying capacity left to conduct air-policing. [116] This nearly led to the stepping down of the Bulgarian Air Force Commander at the time, Rumen Radev, as a protest against the Defence Ministry's plan to conduct joint air-policing missions. He stated that the overhaul of MiG-29 engines was only a temporary solution, with the purchase of new fighters still considered urgent. [117] In response, the Bulgarian Ministry of Finance reportedly set aside funding for the purchase of new fighter jets in the 2016 budget draft. [118]

        Plans and procedures for the procurement of fighter jets and patrol ships were established in the middle of 2016, with around 2.42 billion lev (1.24 billion euro) earmarked for the projects. [119] [120] The estimated cost of the jets was expected to be around 1.5 billion lev and a contract for 8 aircraft was supposed to be reached by the end of 2016. Deliveries were planned for 2018 to 2021 and additional 8 aircraft for 2022 to 2023. [121] In October 2016, it was alleged that technical specifications for the procurement had been altered to favor the F-16, which led to several Bulgarian members of parliament to request comments from the Minister of Defence. [122] More delays were met as Prime Minister Boyko Borisov resigned due to his party's presidential candidate losing the elections, and because Bulgarian parties failed to form a new government, which led to new elections. By March 2017, the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence had received three offers from Sweden with Gripens, from Italy with second-hand Eurofighters, and from Portugal with second-hand US F-16s. A working group began evaluating these offers [123] and by April, concluded that the Gripen was the preferred choice. [124]

        In June 2017, Bulgaria had said that it would start negotiations for the Gripen. However, the procurement was again put on hold over concerns that not all bidders were treated equally. A new round of proposals was asked, which also included newly built Eurofighters from Italy and F-16s from US. [125] In November 2017, it was reported that the Bulgarian Air Force was also looking into buying US made Super Hornets. A decision was expected by July 2018. [126] In March 2018, it was reported that Israel was to be invited to participate in the tender with F-16C/D fighter jets. [127] In December 2018, the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence selected the offer for 8 F-16V from the United States for an estimated 1.8 billion lev ($1.05 billion) as the preferred option, and recommended the government to start talks with the US. [128]

        On 16 January 2019, the Bulgarian parliament approved the government's proposal to start negotiations with the US to purchase F-16V Block 70 aircraft. [129] In May 2019 however, Bulgarian Minister of Defence Krasimir Karakachanov stated in a radio interview that Bulgaria was considering walking away from negotiations for the aircraft, saying that although Bulgaria was not expecting aircraft "for free, but at normal prices, taking into account the prices offered to other countries, for example Slovakia." [130] On June 3, 2019, the U.S. State Department approved the possible sale of 8 F-16 aircraft to Bulgaria. The cost of the contract was estimated at $1.2 billion. [131] The deal was vetoed by the Bulgarian President, Rumen Radev on 23 July 2019, citing the need to find a broader consensus for the deal, sending the deal back to parliament, [132] but on 26 July the deal was again approved by parliament, overruling the veto, and this time was approved by Radev. [133]

        Slovakia Edit

        Slovakia had been looking to replace its aging fleet of MiG-29s since at least 2014, when an option of leasing Swedish Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighters was considered. A possible proposal was finalized in December 2015. However, by June 2016, the deal was rejected due to concerns over cost. Following this, a new round of negotiations was opened. [134] In February 2018, it was reported that Slovakia was in talks to buy either the F-16 or the Gripen fighter jets. [135] In April 2018, the Slovak Ministry of Defence received an offer for F-16 fighters, amounting to $2.91 billion, from the US Department of Defense. [136] On July 11, 2018, the Government of Slovakia approved the purchase of 14 F-16 Block 70/72 fighters for 1.589 billion euros ($1.86 billion). [137]

        In November 2018, the Slovak Ministry of Defence announced it had placed an order for 14 F-16V aircraft for €1.6 billion. [138] Soon after however, the country's Prime Minister went on record to say the contracts were "invalid", stating the documents had not been approved by the Ministry of Finance. [139] It was rapidly revealed that the inability of the ministries to cooperate was due to political rivalries, and the F-16 purchase had caused a minor political crisis in Slovakia. [140] On 12 December 2018, the contract deal to acquire 12 single-seat and 2 double-seat F16 Block 70/72 was officially signed by Slovakian Minister of Defense Peter Gajdos. The first aircraft to arrive into service are scheduled as soon as 2022. [141] [142]

        Colombia Edit

        The United States has offered to sell about fifteen F-16s to Colombia to modernize its fighter force, currently consisting of 22 ageing IAI Kfirs. [143] The offer includes training and maintenance services and overall of the 15 jets, offered until now by the US government to Colombia, [144] [145] pending Colombian government approval, and to stop the constant aggressions made by the government of Venezuela. [146]

        In April 2018, Colombia was offered surplus Israeli Air Force F-16A/B "Netz" and F-16C/D "Barak" aircraft by Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries. The aircraft were offered in response to a Colombian Air Force requirement for 12 to 18 aircraft to replace its current fleet of IAI Kfir aircraft. The offer reportedly includes a service life extension program that would upgrade the aircraft to a standard reportedly similar to Block 50. [147]

        Program Model Block Quantity Serial numbers Deliveries
        Pending US Congress approval F-16 Block 70 24 to be assignated 2021-2024

        India Edit

        For the ongoing Indian MRCA competition for the Indian Air Force (IAF), Lockheed Martin was offering the customized F-16IN Super Viper. [148] The F-16IN is based closely on the F-16E/F Block 60 and features conformal fuel tanks AN/APG-80 AESA radar, GE F110-132A engine with FADEC controls electronic warfare suite and infra-red searching (IRST) updated all-color glass cockpit and a helmet-mounted cueing system. [149] Lockheed Martin and the United States government intensively lobbied for India's US$10 billion contract for 126 fighter jets. [150] [151] Ashton Carter, chief of The Pentagon's acquisition department, even raised the possibility of United States offering F-35 Lightning II to India as a follow-on to the F-16IN. [152] [153] The IAF extensively evaluated the F-16 which included field trials in hot weather conditions and in high-altitude mountain ranges. [154] In April 2011, the IAF rejected F-16IN's bid in favor of either the Eurofighter Typhoon or Dassault Rafale. [155] In January 2012, Dassault Rafale finally emerged as the winner of this US$10.5 billion deal for 126 fighter jets.

        In September 2015, Lockheed offered to produce F-16s in India as a part of the Make in India programme by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and talks began in February 2016 for a potential deal. [156] F-16IN lost in the competition with JAS-39 Gripen E, when Lockheed retired from production in India, and decided to move production line from Fort Worth (Texas) to Greenville (South Carolina). [157] As of July 2017, Lockheed Martin has agreed to sign a letter of intent with the Indian defence firm Tata Advanced Systems Limited to manufacture the jets in India if the Indian government accepts their tender for India's request for a purchase of single engine aircraft to replace its aging Mig fighters. The new production line can be utilised to supply jets to India as well as for exporting them overseas. [158]

        Philippines Edit

        The F-16C/D variants were first offered to the Philippine Air Force in 1992, and partook with several international competitors in a tender in 1995. [159] [160] This tender was however cancelled as a result of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

        In December 2011, the Department of National Defense (DND) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) was tasked to formally request at least a squadron of 12 ex-USAF F-16C/D fighter jets, most probably Block 25 or 30 which would be refurbished to either Block 50 or 52 standards. [161] This was discussed during the US-Philippines "2+2" Meeting on 30 April 2012. The Philippine government would pay for refurbishing, maintenance and pilot training which would run for two years. [162]

        However, by 2012 the maintenance costs for the used fighters were found to be too high so attention turned to new jet trainers that could be converted into jet fighters. The requirements were listed as "supersonic ability, multifunction displays and On Board Oxygen Generation System." [163] A DND spokesman has said that aircraft from France, the United Kingdom, Italy, and South Korea were considered. [164]

        It was reported that the DND will be acquiring multirole fighters by 2018. [165] In responding to the Philippine desire for multirole fighters, the United States offered variants of the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon. [166]

        Argentina Edit

        The US Defense Cooperation Agency offered 36 F-16A (MLU) (+6 spares) in June 1999 for Argentina. The bid was abandoned by the upcoming Argentine government. [ citation needed ]

        Australia Edit

        The F-16A and F-16C were among the designs considered by the Royal Australian Airforce (RAAF) to replace its Dassault Mirage III fighters in the late 1970s and early 1980s. After the initial evaluation processes were concluded, the RAAF was left with a choice between the F-16C and F/A-18 Hornet, both of which met its technical requirements. While the F-16C was cheaper than the F/A-18A, the RAAF decided that the Hornet was more technologically mature, easier to maintain during operational deployments, and likely to have a much lower attrition rate. Accordingly, the Australian Government chose to order 75 F/A-18s in October 1981. [167]

        Brazil Edit

        Brazil was evaluating the F-16BR with the intent to manufacture in a joint-venture with Lockheed Martin. The Dassault Rafale, Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, and the Saab Gripen NG made the short list. F-16BR lost in the competition with JAS-39 Gripen E. [168]

        Croatia Edit

        In July 2017, the Croatian Ministry of Defence announced it had restarted the Croatian Air Force MiG-21 replacement procurement program, and issued a request for proposals for up to 12 aircraft to five countries: Greece, Israel and the United States for the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, Sweden for the Saab JAS 39 Gripen, and South Korea for the KAI T-50 Golden Eagle. [169]

        In October 2017, the Ministry announced it had received four letters of intent for up to 18 aircraft from the United States, Israel and Greece, offering various F-16 variants, as well as Sweden offering an unknown Saab JAS 39 Gripen variant. South Korea did not place a bid in the tender. [170] [171]

        In November 2017, Croatian media announced the offers from Sweden for the Saab JAS 39 Gripen and Israel for a mixed-fleet of A/B and C/D General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon variants had been downselected from the four offers. [172] According to reports, the US bid was dismissed for being too expensive, and the F-16 Block 30 offered by Greece was dismissed for being too outdated. [173] [174] Further reports insinuate the Israeli offer is leading for being most price-competitive, as well as opening up additional opportunities for defence cooperation. [175]

        In March 2018, Croatia accepted the Israeli offer for 12 F-16C/D Block 30 "Barak" aircraft in a US$500 million deal. [176] [177] [178]

        In December 2018, confusion about the deal arose after reports in Israeli media claimed that United States Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis was blocking the deal over Israeli equipment on the aircraft, that would give them an unfair advantage over the U.S. bid for ex-United States Air Force F-16 aircraft. According to the reports, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying "I'm in favor, but Defense Secretary Mattis is against it's him who is blocking it". [179] Croatian Defence Minister Damir Krstičević denied the reports, stating that "The US government has given permission to the State of Israel to offer the Israeli F-16 to Croatia, and we have documented to that effect". [180] It was revealed later that month that Mattis rejected Netanyahus request to sell the F-16s, unless Israeli upgrades were removed and the aircraft were sold in their original condition, to which the Croatian government responded by stating they would cancel the deal if this were the case. [181]

        On 2 January 2019, the Croatian Ministry of Defence issued a deadline on the sale for 11 January, by which the sale as originally agreed upon must be confirmed, or it would be canceled. [182] [183] On 11 January, the sale was officially canceled by the Israeli Ministry of Defence, which reportedly issued an apology to their Croatian counterparts. [184] [185] [186]

        In May 2021, Croatia selected the French Dassault Rafale to replace their MiG-21s over competing bids, including F-16 offers from Israel and the United States. [187]

        Iran Edit

        Iran placed an order for 160 aircraft for the former Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF) in 1976, with an option for a further 140. Due to the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the order was cancelled and no deliveries were made. [188] 55 of these aircraft were later delivered to the Israeli Air Force. [189]

        New Zealand Edit

        In December 1998, the National Party, under the leadership of Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, had given approval for the Royal New Zealand Air Force to acquire 28 F-16A/B Block 15 aircraft following their embargoed sale to Pakistan [190] under a 10-year lease-buy arrangement as an interim replacement for its fleet of ageing A-4 Skyhawks. [191] [192] The agreed price was US$105 million. [191] In a hugely controversial move the acquisition was cancelled by the new incoming Labour government under Helen Clark in March 2000 citing a benign security environment in which "an air combat force is not a priority". [192] [193]

        Foreign sales programs by codename Edit

        While USAF and EPAF customers account for the majority of F-16 sales, the F-16 has also been sold to many other customers under an agreement known as a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.

        Since the DoD assigns two-word codenames to programs such as these, FMS programs are assigned two-word codenames beginning with the word PEACE, indicating oversight by USAF Headquarters. The second word in these FMS sales is often chosen to reflect some facet of the customer, such as MARBLE for Israel or ONYX for Turkey. DoD codenames appear in all capital letters.

        The codename is assigned beginning with the first FMS sale, and Roman numerals are appended to distinguish follow-on buys, the original FMS buy denoted with the Roman numeral 'I'.

        Note that the sale of the F-16E and F-16F Block 60 models to the UAE was not assigned a codename, because it was not sold under an FMS agreement.


        YF-16 Edit

        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 the Northrop YF-17 prototypes, with the F-16 winning the Air Combat Fighter (ACF) competition, as the LWF program had been renamed. [1]

        F-16 FSD Edit

        In January 1975, the Air Force ordered 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. [2]

        Blocks Models Engine
        1–15 F-16A / B PW F100-PW-200
        15OCU, 20 F-16A / B PW F100-PW-220
        25,32,42 F-16C / D PW F100-PW-220E
        30,40 F-16C / D GE F110-GE-100
        50,70 F-16C / D GE F110-GE-129
        52,72 F-16C / D PW F100-PW-229
        60 F-16E / F GE F110-GE-132

        F-16A/B Edit

        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 375 F-16As and 125 F-16Bs, with delivery completed in March 1985.

        F-16A/B Block 1/5/10 Edit

        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 radome painted black.

        It was discovered that the Block 1 aircraft's black radome became an obvious visual identification cue at long range, so the color of the radome was changed to the low-visibility grey for Block 5 aircraft. During the operation of F-16 Block 1, it was discovered that rainwater 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.

        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.

        F-16A/B Block 15 Edit

        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.

        F-16A/B Block 20 Edit

        Block 20 added some F-16C/D block 50/52 capabilities: improved AN/APG-66(V)3 radar with added CW mode to guide two types of BVR missiles – AIM-7M Sparrow missiles and AIM-120 AMRAAM, carriage of AGM-84 Harpoon missiles, as well as the LANTIRN navigation and targeting pod. The Block 20 computers are significantly improved in comparison to that of the earlier versions that later integrated into post 1997 Block 50/52, and also getting color MFD. The Republic of China (Taiwan) received 150 F-16A/B Block 20 aircraft.

        F-16C/D Edit

        F-16C (single seat) and F-16D (two seat).

        F-16C/D Block 25 Edit

        The Block 25 F-16C first flew in June 1984 and entered USAF service in September. The aircraft version is fitted with the Westinghouse AN/APG-68 radar and has 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 25s were first delivered with the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-200 engine and later upgraded to the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220E. With 209 Block 25 C-models and 35 D-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", had flown over 7,000 hours by April 2008. [3]

        F-16C/D Block 30/32 Edit

        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, which entered service in September 1991. 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-16s in the Air Force.

        The Air National Guard procured many upgrades for their fleet of aging block 30/32s including the addition of improved inertial guidance systems, improved electronic warfare suite (AN/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.

        F-16C/D Block 40/42 Edit

        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.

        F-16C/D Block 50/52 Edit

        The first Block 50 F-16 was delivered in late 1991 the aircraft is equipped with improved GPS/INS, and can carry a further batch of advanced missiles: the AGM-88 HARM missile, JDAM, JSOW and WCMD. [4] Block 50 aircraft are powered by the F110-GE-129 while the Block 52 jets use the F100-PW-229.

        F-16C/D Block 50/52 Plus Edit

        This variant's main differences are the addition of support for conformal fuel tanks (CFTs), a dorsal spine compartment, the APG-68(V9) radar, an On-Board Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS), and a JHMCS helmet. [4]

        The CFTs are mounted above the wing, on both sides of the fuselage and are easily removable. They provide 440 US gallons (1,665 L) or approximately 3,000 pounds (1,400 kg) of additional fuel, allowing increased range or time on station and free up hardpoints for weapons instead of underwing fuel tanks. [5] All two-seat "Plus" aircraft have the enlarged avionics dorsal spine compartment which is located behind the cockpit and extends to the tail. It adds 30 cu ft (850 L) to the airframe for more avionics with only small increases in weight and drag. [6]

        Poland took delivery of its first F-16C Block 52+ aircraft on 15 September 2006. The "Poland Peace Sky program" includes 36 F-16Cs and 12 F-16Ds. All 48 aircraft were delivered in 2008. [7] The Hellenic Air Force took delivery of its first F-16C Block 52+ aircraft on 2 May 2003. The Hellenic Air Force is the first Air Force in the world to operate this F-16 type. [8] The total Greek order was 60 F-16C/D. [9] The Israeli F-16I and its Singapore equivalent variant are based on the block 52+ aircraft. In March 2010, it was announced that the Egyptian Air Force would purchase 20 Block 52 aircraft (16 F-16Cs and 4 F-16Ds), the first of which arrived for testing in April 2012. [10]

        Under the PEACE ONYX III CCIP program, 165 of Turkish Air Force's F-16s have been upgraded to Block 50+ standards by Turkish Aerospace Industries. [11]

        The Pakistan Air Force bought 12 F-16C and 6 F-16D Block 52+.

        F-16E/F Edit

        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. [12] The F-16E/F designation now belongs to a version developed especially for the United Arab Emirates Air Force, and is sometimes unofficially called the "Desert Falcon".

        F-16E/F Block 60 Edit

        The Block 60 was designed for the United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF). [13] Based on the F-16C/D Block 50/52, it features improved radar, avionics and conformal fuel tanks. 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 engine is a development of the −129 model and is rated at 32,500 lbf (144 kN). The Electronic Warfare system is supposed to be quite advanced and includes the Northrop Grumman Falcon Edge Integrated Electronic Warfare Suite RWR together with the AN/ALQ-165 Self-Protection Jammer. Falcon Edge, which was developed by Northrop Grumman specifically for the Block 60, is capable of showing not only the bearing of any threat but also the range.

        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 1,000 times increase in data-handling capability. UAE funded the entire $3 billion Block 60 development costs, and in exchange will receive royalties if any of the Block 60 aircraft are sold to other nations. According to press reports quoted by Flight International, this is "the first time the US has sold a better aircraft [F-16] overseas than its own forces fly". [14] Like the F-35, the Block 60 F-16 has a built in FLIR/laser targeting system rather than using a dedicated pod that would occupy a hardpoint, increase drag and RCS. [15]

        In 2014 the UAE requested an upgrade to Block 61, along with the purchase of 30 more aircraft at that level. However, the UAE cancelled the order of buying and upgrading the F-16E/F Block 61. [16]

        F-16V Block 70/72 Edit

        On 15 February 2012, Lockheed Martin unveiled a new version of their F-16 at the 2012 Singapore Airshow. [17] The F-16V will feature enhancements including an AN/APG-83 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, an upgraded mission computer and architecture, and improvements to the cockpit – all capabilities identified by the U.S. Air Force and several international customers for future improvements. The new variant is dubbed the "Viper", which is intended to better operate with fifth-generation fighters, and should not be confused with Lockheed's F-16IN Block 70/72 "Super Viper", which was offered to India for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft competition and showcased at the 2009 Aero India Air Show. [18] "The new F-16V will become the new F-16 baseline," said George Standridge, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics' vice president of business development. On 16 October 2015, the F-16V flew for the first time with an APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar AESA, a new Center Pedestal Display, a modernized mission computer, Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System, and many other upgrades. This can be fitted on new production F-16s or retrofitted on existing ones. [19] The first of these were for Taiwan F-16A/B Block 20s. The upgrade of its 144 aircraft fleet started in January 2017 and is expected to complete by 2023. [20]

        In September 2017, the US State Department approved a Foreign Military Sale to Bahrain for 19 new F-16V and upgrade its 20 existing F-16 block 40 to F-16V. [21]

        In October 2017, the US approved the sale of 123 upgrade kits to Greece to bring their existing F-16C and D fighters up to the new F-16V standard. [22] On 28 April 2018, Greece decided to upgrade 84 aircraft. [23]

        South Korea also plans to upgrade 134 of its F-16 fleet to F-16V by November 2025. [24]

        In April 2018, the US State Department approved a Foreign Military Sale to Slovakia for 14 new F-16Vs, pending approval from U.S. Congress. [25] The Defence Ministry of Slovakia announced on 11 July 2018 that it intends to purchase 14 F-16 Block 70 aircraft from Lockheed Martin to replace its aging fleet of Mikoyan MiG-29s. [26] The package, which includes armament and training, is worth €1.58 billion ($1.8 billion), and is Slovakia's largest military purchase in modern history. Defence Minister Peter Gajdoš signed the contract with Lockheed Martin representative Ana Wugofski in a press conference at the capital Bratislava on 12 December 2018. [27] after the government approved the purchase. [28] [29] [30]

        In June 2018, Bahrain finalized its order for 16 brand new Block 70 F-16V. [31] [32]

        In December 2018, Bulgaria chose eight F-16Vs as replacements for MiG-29s. [ citation needed ] On 10 July 2019, Bulgaria approved the purchase of eight F-16V Block 70/72 for $1.25 billion. [33]

        On 27 February 2019, Taiwan requested to buy 66 new F-16V Block 70/72 airframes for an approximate $13 billion as replacement for their aging Mirage 2000 and F-5 fighters. [34] On 16 August 2019, the US State Department submitted the package to Congress, [35] total package worth $8 billion for 66 F-16 Block 70 and other spare parts. [36] On 13 December 2019, the US and Taiwan finalized the F-16V order. [37] On 14 August 2020, Taiwan formally signed an agreement to buy 66 F-16V jets built by Lockheed Martin. [38]

        On 25 March 2019, the US Department of Defense announced approvals for two sets of foreign military sales of F-16V hardware to Morocco one for upgrading its existing 23 F-16s to the F-16V configuration, valued at $985.2 million and the second for a batch of 25 new Block 72 airframes, 29 new engines, a package of precision-guided munitions, and training valued at $3.787 billion. [39] [40]

        In May 2021, the U.S. Air Force had awarded a $14 billion contract to Lockheed Martin to build new 128 Block 70/72 F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets on behalf of Bahrain, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Taiwan and Morocco through 2026. [41] [42]

        F-16A/B Block 15 ADF Edit

        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, with these last examples retired from the US service by 2007. [a]

        F-16A/B Block 15 OCU Edit

        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, the ability to fire the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile, and the AGM-119 Penguin Mk.3 anti-shipping missile developed by the Norwegian company Kongsberg, and provisions for the AIM-120 AMRAAM. Many foreign customers upgraded their aircraft to the F-16A/B Block 15OCU standard. [43]

        F-16AM/BM Block 20 MLU Edit

        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/Bs. 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 50/52 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. Aircraft receiving this set of updates are designated F-16AM or F-16BM.

        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. [44] [45]

        The first of five prototype conversions flew on 28 April 1995, and installation of production kits began in January 1997. The 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, with another 20 going through the update incountry at this time. In recent years, Chile, Jordan, and Pakistan have purchased surplus Dutch and Belgian F-16AM/BM for their air forces. [45]

        The 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 to 2007 installation is anticipated to be completed in 2010. A M4 tape has also been developed that adds the ability to use additional weapons and the Pantera targeting pod Norway began conducting flying combat operations in Afghanistan with these upgraded aircraft in 2008. An M5 tape is in development that will 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. In 2015 tape M7 was implemented. [45] Pakistan upgraded its F-16 Block 15s to Block 20 MLU status with help of TAI

        F-16C/D Block 30 F-16N/TF-16N Edit

        The U.S. Navy acquired 22 modified Block 30 F-16Cs 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. Fighter Squadron 126 (VF-126) and the Navy Fighter Weapons School (NFWS) (or TOPGUN) operated them at NAS Miramar, California on the West Coast East Coast adversary training squadrons were Fighter Squadron 43 (VF-43) at NAS Oceana, Virginia and Fighter Squadron 45 (VF-45) at NAS Key West, Florida. 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. By 1995, all but one of these aircraft had been sent to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) for preservation and storage one F-16N was sent to the National Museum of Naval Aviation at NAS Pensacola, Florida as a museum article. As adversary aircraft, the Navy's F-16Ns were notable for their colorful appearance. Most Navy F-16N aircraft were painted in a three-tone blue-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 the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC) that were originally intended for Pakistan before being embargoed. These aircraft (which are not designated F-16N/TF-16N) are operated by the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) / (TOPGUN) for adversary training and like their F-16N predecessors are painted in exotic schemes.

        F-16CJ/DJ Block 50D/52D Edit

        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 mounted on the port intake hardpoint in place of the LANTIRN navigation pod. The first F-16CJ (serial number 91-0360) was delivered on 7 May 1993. [4] [46]

        F-16C/D Block 52M Edit

        In 2005, the Greek government ordered 30 more F-16C/D, 20 single-seat and 10 double-seat. These aircraft are called F-16C/D Block 52+ Advanced, but are known in the Hellenic Air Force as F-16 Block 52M (due to improved computing power for mission computer MMC). The differences between the normal Block 52+ and Block 52+ Advanced are that the Advanced version has a LINK 16 Communications System, more powerful Mission Control Computer, an extra Multi Function Display with a movable map navigation, advanced Debriefing System and the capability of carrying the RECCE Reconnaissance Pod. They also feature major upgrades by Lockheed Martin and Hellenic Aerospace Industry. The first aircraft were delivered to Hellenic Air Force in May 2009 and they are flying with the 335 Squadron "Tiger" in Araxos air base.

        F-16I Sufa Edit

        The F-16I is a two-seat variant of the Block 52 developed for the Israeli Defense Force – Air Force (IDF/AF). [47] Israel issued a requirement in September 1997 and selected the F-16 in preference to the F-15I 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, which is called Sufa (Storm) by the IDF/AF, first flew on 23 December 2003, and deliveries to the IDF/AF began on 19 February 2004. [48] The F-16I has an estimated unit cost of approximately US$70 million (2006). [49]

        One major deviation of the F-16I from the Block 52 is that approximately 50% of the avionics were replaced by Israeli-developed avionics, such as the Israeli Aerial Towed Decoy replacing the ALE-50 and autonomous aerial combat maneuvering instrumentation, which enables training exercises to be conducted without dependence on ground instrumentation. Elbit Systems produced the aircraft's helmet-mounted sight, head-up display (HUD), mission and presentation computers, and digital map display. Furthermore, the F-16I can employ Rafael's Python 5 infrared-guided air-to-air missile, and often uses Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)'s removable conformal fuel tanks (CFT) for extended range. Key American-sourced systems include the F100-PW-229 turbofan engine, which offers commonality with the IDF/AF's F-15Is, and the APG-68(V)9 radar. [50]

        A-16 Edit

        The A-16 began as a late-1980s GD project to develop a close air support (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 to a 26 November 1990 Congressional directive to the US Air Force mandating that it retain two wings of A-10s. [12]

        F/A-16 Edit

        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 [51] and Global Positioning System (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. [12]

        Other CAS initiatives Edit

        In 1991, 24 F-16A/B Block 10 aircraft belonging to the 174th TFW, a New York Air National Guard 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 gun pod on the centerline station and was supplied with 353 rounds of ammunition. There were also plans to convert F-16Cs to this configuration and to incorporate the A-10s 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 Operation Desert Storm, they did not use the gun pods in action, and the Block 10 F/A-16 was phased out after the war. [12]

        F-16A(R) Edit

        About two dozen F-16As of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) were supplied with indigenous Oude Delft Orpheus low-altitude tactical reconnaissance pods transferred from its retiring RF-104G. Designated F-16A(R), the first example flew on 27 January 1983, and they entered service with the RNLAF's 306 Squadron in October 1984. The aircraft were common with the regular F-16s. However they were equipped with an extra panel in the cockpit to control the center line mounted pod. Under the MLU program, a more standardized interface was introduced so every aircraft could be used to operate the Orpheus pod or any other pod with the standardized interface.

        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 to 1998. The F-16A(R) remained primarily combat aircraft with a secondary reconnaissance role. [52] [53] [54]

        F-16 Recce Edit

        The first reconnaissance variant was a USAF F-16D experimentally configured in 1986 with a centerline multi-sensor bathtub-style pod. The USAF decided in 1988 to replace the aging RF-4C Phantom fleet with F-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 (ANG) squadrons have received the system since mid-1998. The USAF, however, does not designate them "RF-16s". [52] [55] [56]

        RF-16A/C Edit

        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 electro-optical (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). [52] [55]

        F-16 MSIP Edit

        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. [57]

        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 HUD multi-function displays (MFD) 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. [46] [58]

        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 takes 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 and employment of the AGM-45 Shrike anti-radiation missiles. The first Block 30 was delivered in July 1986. [46] [59]

        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 Identification Friend or Foe (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 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. [60]

        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. [46] [61] [62]

        Pacer Loft I and II Edit

        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). [43]

        Falcon UP Edit

        Although the F-16 was originally designed with an expected service life of 8,000 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 5,500 flying hours. Beginning in the early 1990s, the Falcon UP program restored the 8,000-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 8,000 hours. [63] [64]

        Falcon STAR Edit

        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 it 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-16s this is expected to extend the Falcon STAR program, which began in 1999, through 2014. [63] [64]

        F-16 ACE Edit

        Israel Aircraft Industries 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 HUD or a helmet-mounted display. The 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. [65] [66]

        F-16 Falcon ONE Edit

        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. [67] [68]

        F-16 CCIP Edit

        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. Lockheed Martin 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. [69] [70] In 2007, Korean Air was awarded a USAF contract for F-16 upgrades, which included both CCIP, Falcon-STAR, and Drop in Maintenance works. 100 USAF F-16s were to be upgraded and maintained by Korean Air under the contract. The upgrade program would extend the F-16's flying hours from 6,000 to 8,000 hours. The work would continue for six years until 2013. [71]

        Phase 1 of the CCIP added 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). [69]

        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. [69]

        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 80 Block 40/50 and 37 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 Turkey holds the option to upgrade the remainder of its 100 Block 40s, which could extend the program. [69] [72] As of 2019, all F-16s in TAF's inventory are upgraded to Block 50/52+ and being fitted with indigenous AESA radars. [73]

        CUPID Edit

        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. [63] [64]

        F-16C/D Barak 2020 Edit

        In 2011 [74] Israeli Air force announced an upgrade program of its aging F-16C/D (blocks 30 and 40) fleet, to make it valuable in 2020 and even later. The upgrade included installation of newer avionics, new wiring more, which made these block 30/40 airframes closer to IAFs I (Sufa) model (in itself upgraded block 52+ F-16D). The upgrade program was completed in 2014. [75]

        F-16 C/D Özgür Edit

        In 2020, the Turkish Air Force announced the modernization of its F-16 fleet. Upgrading its jets with indegenious AESA radar, Electronic-Warfare (EW) and other sub-systems. First starting with its oldest block 30 models and later its newer block 50/50+ fleet [76]

        F-16E/F / F-16 Block 60 / Desert Falcon

        The most advanced F-16 model in the world is the product of a direct commercial sale. It is the F-16 Block 60, developed for the United Arab Emirates. The aircraft's designation, F-16E/F, recognizes the major structural, avionics and propulsion enhancements in this practically all-new version of the Fighting Falcon. The last designation change, the F-16C/D, was introduced with the Block 25 version in 1984.

        • Conformal fuel tanks mounted above the wing root, which allow for a mission radius of 1,025 miles with no in-flight refueling. This amounts to a 40 percent increase over the range of the current Block 50 F-16.
        • Internal forward-looking infrared targeting system mounted into the nose of the aircraft, which replaces the external pods on earlier F-16 models. This reduces drag and lowers the radar cross section of the aircraft, making detection by the enemy more difficult.
        • Agile-beam radar, which employs an active, electronically scanned antenna to achieve the wide bandwidth necessary to support the Desert Falcon's mission. The radar relies on a fixed panel of transmitters and receptors that can broadcast beams quickly and in every direction.
        • Electronic countermeasures suite with internal electroniccountermeasures and an electronic-warfare management system designed to foil Russian double-digit surface-to-air missiles such as the SA-10 and SA-12.
        • Advanced mission computer to enhance sensor and weapon integration.
        • Three five-inch by five-inch color displays in the cockpit and a helmet-mounted cueing system to improve situational awareness of the pilot.

        Lockheed Martin provided commercial warranties andcommitted to delivering the first operational F-16E/Faircraft to the UAE in May 2004 actual delivery occurred in June 2004. The program plan for the F-16 Block 60 looked very much like the F-16A program plan of the mid-1970s. It featured phasing of the development work, procurement of long-lead items for production, and delivery of operational aircraft to the UAE even before the conclusion of system integration and flight test.

        It would be easy to say that the F-16 is a mature aircraft and therefore the risk is acceptably low. However, a careful look at the proposed technologies, change of planform, addition of conformal fueltanks for extended range, alteration of the cockpit arrangement, and other features would lead an experiencedprogram manager to dispute that claim.

        Even so, some critical aspects of the UAE program increase prospects for success. For example, Lockheed Martin has given its program manager total control overall aspects of his program. The entire program was fully funded, up front, by the client government. Within the price structure, the PM had a management reserve. He also had authority to allocate or reallocate budgeted resources across the entire program he did not have toworry about keeping separate development, production,and O&M accounts. He had a technical baseline, complete with an agreed-to test matrix and criteria for suc-cessful completion of individual test events. His primary obligation was to deliver combat capability, as specified. He had authority to make system-level trade-offs that provide the specified performance capability. Most importantly, he had a funding stream matched to schedule, thus ensuring he would have the proper infrastructure, people, and parts.

        The Block 60 aircraft had its first flight on Dec. 6, 2003. The contractor conducted 12 test flights in the first month, something achieved in few if any modern day aircraft programs.

        F-16 Designer Harry Hillaker

        The F-16 is a revolutionary aircraft. It represents a major change in fighter design. Its fine blend of high technology and common sense requirements emphasizes flight performance-range, persistence, and maneuverability - right in the heart of the flight envelope where air combat takes place. The aircraft's "user-friendly" cockpit and integrated avionic system allow a single pilot to fight and win in aerial combat.

        The design also emphasizes low cost in procurement, in operation and support, and in provisions for growth. The F-16 introduced many successful technologies. Fly-by-wire and relaxed static stability gave the F-16 a quantum leap in air combat capability over other fighters when it was introduced and this technology still makes the aircraft an unmatched competitor today. The F-16 disproved the adages that bigger was better, that a lot of capability had to be expensive, and that sophisticated systems rarely worked.

        Harry Hillaker deserves much of the credit for this revolutionary approach to fighter design. You might say that the F-16 began as a spare-time project for this veteran designer. Back in the mid-1960s, Hillaker spent his off hours designing the plane of his dreams - a lightweight, high-performance jet that could fly circles around all other fighters. His spare-time project turned into an obsession. The obsession became a reality. Today it is a standard - a plane by which others are measured.

        Though Hillaker retired in 1985, after forty-four years of design work, he remains active as a consultant to the US Air Force and industry. In 1990, he was inducted into the prestigious US National Academy of Engineering for his achievements. He spent two terms as chairman of the Aerospace Vehicles Panel of the Air Force's Scientific Advisory Board. Hillaker, who lives about ten minutes away from the F-16 production line in Fort Worth, is always pleased to talk about the F-16 and his part in its development.

        In the late 1960s, you found yourself involved in what was called the "fighter mafia." Where did that name come from?

        That was the title given to the small group of people responsible for the conceptual design of the lightweight fighter, what became the F-16. The group had three core members: John Boyd, Pierre Sprey, and me. We were given the "mafia" title by people in the Air Force back in the mid-60s. We were viewed as an underground group that was challenging the establishment. We were a threat of sorts.

        What made the fighter mafia threatening?

        We wanted a change. While most of the Air Force was interested in going north, we wanted to go south. More specifically, they were concerned that we were trying to introduce a new fighter that would jeopardize the F-15.

        You see, the F-15 was the first air-superiority fighter that the Air Force had put under contract in twenty-five years. They were committed to the F-15. They felt strongly that our airplane was just a hotdog airplane that was good only for air shows on sunny Sundays at the state fair. This view was strengthened to a degree by their experience with the Lockheed F-104. The F-104 was a really hot airplane that people loved to fly, but it didn't have much capability and not much range. The Air Force bought only 300 of them.

        We were threatening for another reason. We were perceived as being anti-technology. Our slogan was "make it simple." The slogan itself may have been an oversimplification. We didn't articulate ourselves well early on.

        Does technology discourage simple approaches in aircraft design?

        There have been debates through the years about just how much technology should be incorporated in any design. The real issue isn't technology versus no technology. It is how to apply technology. For example, the F-15 represents a brute-force approach to technology. If you want higher speeds, add bigger engines. If you want longer range, make the airplane bigger to increase the fuel capacity. The result is a big airplane. The F-15 was viewed as highly sophisticated because it is so big and expensive. In my mind, the F-15 wasn't as technically advanced as the F-4.

        The F-16 is much more of an application of high technology than the F-15. We used the technology available to drive the given end, that is, or was, to keep things as simple and small as we could. Our design was a finesse approach. If we wanted to fly faster, we made the drag lower by reducing size and adjusting the configuration itself. If we wanted greater range, we made the plane more efficient, more compact.

        What are the advantages of simple and small?

        In general terms, it translates into lower weight, less drag, and therefore higher performance. Also, a fundamental indicator of an airplane's cost is its weight. We were well aware that the avionics folks would be putting a bunch of gadgets in the airplane, which would increase weight and decrease performance. We stacked the deck. We made the airplane so dense that there wasn't room for all that stuff.

        As it turned out, our high-density design was one of the things that looked as though it might hinder the advancement of the airplane. It was later graded on the amount of unusable space. We had 4.8 cubic feet. The F-15 had almost ten times that.

        Another reason, besides weight, favors small size. Smaller aircraft have less drag. People always talk in terms of drag coefficients. But drag coefficients really don't tell you that much. For example, the drag coefficient of an F-16 is about the same as that of an F-4. However, the F-16 has about one-third the drag of an F-4 in level flight. At angle of attack, it is about one-fifteenth. The airplane's exceptional maneuverability is a consequence of that lower drag and a higher thrust-to-weight ratio.

        How were these relationships used in the development of the lightweight fighter?

        My first dealings with John Boyd and Pierre Sprey did not involve any airplane designs per se. Our early work was purely and simply an analysis of the relationships of wing loading and thrust loading and fuel fraction (the ratio of fuel capacity to the weight of the airplane). We wanted to understand the relationship between these variables. We knew that we wanted low wing loading and high thrust loading. But we also knew that low wing loading means more weight and more drag. High thrust loading means high fuel consumption. Airplanes with high thrust-to-weight ratios are normally equated with short range. That's why we started looking at fuel fractions. We wanted to tie all these things together to get a better feel for the boundaries involved.

        Had anyone looked at the problem this way before?

        I would say that people had thought about it, but no one had applied it systematically to get a complete picture.
        We were trying to determine the trends. We didn't spend a lot of time looking for exact values. It is one thing to agree that something is better. But how much better is another question. The answer involves finding a trend and asking more questions. Is the design being improved by these actions? How fast is it improving for a given amount of change? The person most responsible for this approach was John Boyd.

        What were some of the conventions the fighter mafia challenged?

        Range was associated with fuel capacity. High speed was associated with bigger engines. Technology was associated with complexity. Twin-engine designs were considered safer. Size and cost were associated with capability. These were the reigning over-simplifications of the day.

        Why were they accepted as truth?

        People tend to focus on one part of a given parameter. You can, for example, get a higher thrust-to-weight ratio by increasing the thrust. You can also get a higher thrust-to-weight ratio by leaving the thrust alone and reducing the weight, which is what we did on the lightweight fighter.

        We had to take this approach because we had to use a given engine, the F100, which had been developed for the F-15. John Boyd had played a part in defining that engine, and he felt comfortable with it. So the engine was fixed. That meant that the thrust was fixed. If we wanted a high thrust-to-weight ratio, we had no choice but to reduce weight.

        The range equation can be treated like the thrust-to-weight ratio. The typical approach to increase range is to simply increase fuel capacity. But increasing fuel capacity increases volume, which means more weight and more drag. People think that big is better. It's not. With the lightweight fighter, we wanted to achieve our ends through different means. We increased range by reducing size.

        Did those involved in the early days of the lightweight fighter program take such a historical perspective?

        Boyd and Sprey did two things in this respect. Sprey collected all the data he could get his hands on concerning fighter aircraft reliability and effectiveness. They also collected cost data. They were the first people I know of who took Air Force cost data and plotted it against time.

        They started with the P-51 Mustang. The minimum increases in cost in jumping from one airplane to another was a factor of 1.9. The increases were as high as 3.1 in same-year dollars. The data showed the increment involved in going to jet engines, to swept wings, to supersonic, missiles, and big radars. It showed the difference between this airplane and that airplane and the effect of these differences on cost.

        The cost per pound of succeeding airplanes went up at the same rate as the overall cost. This is true even for the F-16. That is, if I plot a curve of cost per pound for succeeding aircraft, the F-16 is right on the curve. Its increment of cost per pound has gone up the same as any other airplane. However, if I plot a curve of unit flyaway cost, the F-16 falls off that curve. It reversed the upward trend in unit flyaway cost. It was the only aircraft to do this. So the way we got the cost down was by getting the size down. That was another motivation for reducing size.

        How was this design approach different from the norm?

        We usually rush into form before we really understand what the function is. That gets us in trouble. The lightweight fighter brought a new perspective to maximum speed and acceleration. Everyone wanted airplanes to go Mach 2 to 2.5. No one asked why.

        I had the opportunity one time when we were working on the supersonic transport to track all the supersonic flight time on the B-58. We had over one hundred B-58s flying, and the most supersonic flight time on any one airplane was seven hours. Seven hours. This was less than five percent of the total flight time. The entire fleet had a total of only 200 hours supersonic.

        A lot of people equate flying top speed with acceleration. Big engines, for those setting the requirements, meant high speed and high acceleration. This is not a true relationship. With the F-16, we addressed function first. We asked, what value is derived from a given capability?

        What was the riskiest portion of your lightweight fighter design?

        The fly-by-wire system. If the fly by wire didn't work, our relaxed static stability wasn't going to work. And then the airplane would have had higher drag and would have been less responsive, less maneuverable.

        We had a backup that not too many people know about. We designed the fuselage so that if the fly by wire did not work, we could go back to a statically stable design by moving the wing back. We had bulkheads in the fuselage that were designed to carry the load of both placements of the wing.

        Were other companies looking at fly-by-wire control systems?

        McDonnell Douglas had contracts with the Air Force and with the Flight Dynamics Lab for test programs for fly-by-wire systems, relaxed static stability, and the high-acceleration cockpit for the F-4. The technology was available, but these companies didn't take advantage of it.

        Shortly after we won the full-scale development contract for the F-16, I was invited to give a talk to the St. Louis chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. My initial response was, You must be kidding. You want me to go into the lion's den? McDonnell Douglas did all kinds of advertising and everything else that was anti lightweight fighter. My immediate reply was, thanks but no thanks.

        About fifteen minutes later, I got a call from Dave Lewis [then-chairman of General Dynamics Corporation]. He said, Harry, I hear that you're giving a talk on the F-16 up here to these McAir guys. That's great. I want you to give them hell, and I'm going to be there to see you do it.

        I called the AIAA guy back up and said I had second thoughts. A presentation might be fun. I didn't really think that. But I'm influenced by politics, too.

        A couple of days before the meeting, the program chairman said that the chapter had sold more tickets to that meeting than to any other past meeting, even meetings with astronaut speakers. He said they had over one hundred coming from McDonnell Douglas alone. You can imagine how I felt.

        I gave the talk. After about an hour of questions and answers, the program chairman interrupted to let those who wanted to leave, leave. Two hours after that, the hotel manager came in the room and asked us to leave because they had to set up the room for a breakfast the next morning. At 2:30 in the morning, about fifteen McAir guys and I closed the bar. These were the same people who worked on fly by wire, relaxed static stability, and the high-acceleration cockpit, all the test programs the Air Force and its Flight Dynamics Lab had conducted for the F-4, which McDonnell had the contract for.

        Now here's McDonnell building the F-15, the world's latest-greatest fighter, which did not contain one of these technologies. I had 125 McDonnell guys who were more interested in the F-16 than they were in their own F-15 because they saw the fruits of their labors being incorporated in my airplane.

        Why didn't they incorporate these technologies?

        The F-15 was very expensive. It had been twenty-five years since the Air Force had had an air-superiority fighter. It had taken more than five years just to get the program approved. They couldn't afford to take any risks.

        How was it that you could take these risks?

        The contract for the lightweight fighter prototype was for a best effort. We did not have to deliver an airplane, legally. Once we spent our $3 million, we could have piled all the parts on a flatbed trailer and said to Mr. Air Force, here's your airplane.

        We could fly the airplane when we were ready to fly it. We pushed for a flyable airplane because we were competing against Northrop. But my point is that we were not working against a difficult, but arbitrary schedule. And most schedules are arbitrary. Furthermore, there was no fixed follow-on. The airplane was simply a technology demonstrator.

        Why was Northrop unwilling to take the risks involved with the new technologies in their prototype for a lightweight fighter?

        Northrop wanted an airplane to replace their F-5. They were more interested in sales to foreign markets and stayed very rigid and conservative in their design because they wanted to be able to show their foreign markets the airplane at any point in its design.

        We were interested in what the US Air Force wanted, and we stayed flexible in the design to respond to their needs. We looked at a number of designs. We waited until the very last to choose the best one. We could afford to put these advanced technologies into the airplane. We were more apt to accept the risk.

        A number of companies were caught off guard by our winning the lightweight fighter prototype contract. They were out there promoting their ideas around the Air Force. We weren't. We were deliberately quiet about what we were doing because we were handicapped with a bad reputation, though quite undeserved, from the F-111 days. We couldn't brag. Instead, we quietly did our homework and did it thoroughly.

        We were ready to fly the lightweight prototype on 1 February 1974. We found out Northrop wasn't flying until June or July. That really worried us. We first thought that they had one-upped us. Their design is a production design, we thought, not a prototype. In actuality, they were just behind. One of the reasons the Air Force eventually chose our design was that it was closer to a full-scale development than Northrop's.

        Are you comfortable with the title "Father of the F-16"?

        I'm flattered by it. As its father, I had the best part, providing the sperm. Now the gestation period and much of what happened later was something else. Other people can take credit for what happened there. My interest in airplanes is the external shape. I'm not that interested in what goes inside, except as how it affects the outside shape.

        PART II Of The Harry Hillaker Interview

        In the first part of the interview, you talked about the fighter mafia&rsquos unconventional approach to fighter design. What were some of the conventions you challenged?

        Range was associated with fuel capacity. High speed was associated with bigger engines. Technology was associated with complexity. Twin-engine designs were considered safer. Size and cost were associated with capability. These were the reigning oversimplifications.

        Why were they accepted as truth?

        People tend to focus on one part of a given parameter. You can, for example, get a higher thrust-to-weight ratio by increasing the thrust. You can also get a higher thrust-to-weight ratio by leaving the thrust alone and reducing the weight, which is what we did on the lightweight fighter.

        We had to reduce weight because we had to use a given engine, the F100, which had been developed for the F-15. John Boyd [a fighter mafia member] had played a part in defining that engine, and he felt comfortable with it. So the engine was fixed. That meant that the thrust was fixed. If we wanted a high thrust-to-weight ratio, we had no choice but to reduce weight.

        The range equation can be treated like the thrust-to-weight ratio. The typical approach to increase range is to simply increase fuel capacity. But increasing fuel capacity increases volume, which means more weight and more drag.

        People think that big is better. It&rsquos not. With the lightweight fighter, we wanted to achieve our ends through different means. We increased range by reducing size.

        Innovation requires breaking rules. But organizations are based on rules. How can this fundamental conflict be overcome to encourage innovation?

        It requires an attitude. One that places substance before style. We don&rsquot mind coming up with something that&rsquos mediocre. We don&rsquot step on anyone&rsquos toes. We don&rsquot break any traditions.

        The easiest way to change something, unfortunately, is to have a disaster. You take innovative approaches when you have to, when you&rsquore forced to.

        Can companies encourage innovation by tolerating eccentricity in the right places, in places like advanced design departments?

        Yes. You shouldn&rsquot constrain the formulation of a design. Once you have one, you can let the organization take charge to implement it. But even then, you need to retain some flexibility.

        Who most influenced your career and how did they influence it?

        Bob Widmer, GD&rsquos Vice President of Engineering in Fort Worth, was my mentor for much of my career. I learned a lot from him. He had vision and encouraged free thinking. He is one of those guys with a lot of curiosity. He was always asking why. Bill Dietz was influential later in my career. He was the best person I ever worked for. We understood each other&rsquos strengths and skills. We complemented each other nicely during the lightweight fighter days. Bill recognized my talents and let me use them. It was one of the few times in my life that I felt free and comfortable to go out and do things the way I saw them without worrying about what my boss thought.

        Then there&rsquos Ed Heineman. He was the equivalent of vice president of engineering for the corporation. Earlier in his career, he was responsible for the A-4, the Heineman Hotrod. He did for the Navy with the A-4 what we did for the Air Force with the F -16. He brought a lot of his enthusiasm to the F-16 program.

        There were others who influenced my career, people I debated with frequently, John Boyd and Pierre Sprey, the other core members of the fighter mafia. With them, I was hearing music that I liked, so I danced to the beat.

        To sum up, design approaches - Widmer and Heineman. Working relationships - Bill Dietz. Fundamental concepts and approaches for aircraft and their use - John Boyd and Pierre Sprey.

        Boyd and Sprey would later admonish you for not sticking to the fighter mafia&rsquos original intent summed up by the group&rsquos motto &ldquomake it simple.&rdquo They fault the aircraft for getting heavy and overloaded with gadgetry. What is your response?

        If we had stayed with the original lightweight fighter concept, that is, a simple day fighter, we would have produced only 300 F-16s, the same number of F-104s that were built. This is not to say that their complaints are unreasonable. When you load up an F-16 with external fuel tanks, bombs, and an electronic countermeasures pod on the centerline, you&rsquove doubled its drag. For someone who&rsquos worked all his life to achieve minimum drag, that&rsquos sacrilegious. Nonetheless, it speaks well for the airplane.

        The F -16 has far exceeded my expectations. However, if I had realized at the time that the airplane would have been used as a multimission, primarily an air-to-surface airplane as it is used now, I would have designed it differently.

        Is this difference represented by the F-16XL?

        Yes. The F-16XL had a better balance of air-to-air and air-to-ground capability. In fact, when I first started going to the Air Force with plans for the F-16XL, some of the Air Force people were so enthusiastic about it that they accused me of holding the design back so that we could sell the airplane twice. If you know anything about the history of the lightweight fighter, you know that this was not the case.

        With the F-16XL, we reduced the drag of the weapon carriage by sixty-three percent. The drag of the XL with the same fuel and twice as many bombs is a little over thirty percent less than today&rsquos F-16 when you load it up. This points up a fallacy that has existed for thirty years, and I&rsquom concerned that it may still exist. Our designs assume clean airplanes. Bombs and all the other crap are added on as an afterthought. These add-ons not only increase drag but they also ruin the handling qualities. They should be considered from the beginning.

        We ought to start with the weapon. That&rsquos really the final product. We ought to determine what the weapon is and what it will take to deliver it and then do the airplane. Now, we design the airplane and smash the weapon on it.

        Is anything being done to address your concerns?

        Concurrent engineering, what is also called integrated product development, is supposed to address these concerns. However, I still don&rsquot see much hope. As a member of the Scientific Advisory Board, I&rsquove learned that even with concurrent engineering, we&rsquo re still not considering the weapon up front in the design. The weapon is not receiving equal consideration with the engine, avionics, and other major systems.

        What is your conception of concurrent engineering, and why isn&rsquot it being used to address these concerns?

        The primary objective of concurrent engineering is to end up with a mature design, one that is closer to the final product. It&rsquos the kind of thing that says we&rsquore going to start everybody all at once and we&rsquore going to be fair. The basic idea is to reduce design changes once production models are rolling out of the factory.

        I can&rsquot fault that objective. But I don&rsquot think it can be achieved by simply glamorizing a process. We wouldn&rsquot need to do these things if we had the right attitude and dedication to begin with. The relationship between the Air Force and defense contractors is also important. The Air Force would be well-advised to concentrate on what to and leave the how to to the contractors. I think you would end up with a better, lower-cost product.

        Furthermore, this system - concurrent engineering - does not let you select a seed that you can cultivate. You need a skeleton from which to start. We now have people working on a project before we know if its skeleton has seventeen ribs or four ribs, three or two arms.

        Is concurrent engineering made necessary because people are specializing?

        In part. You have too many people who want equal participation, equal consideration in the design process. Too many insist that they belong in the front row, even when it is more proper for them to be in the second row.

        Is this approach affected by the way engineers are educated?

        Every spring I lecture to the senior design class of the Air Force Academy. They are a bright bunch. There is no question that the kids getting out of school today are a lot smarter and know a lot more than those of us who got out of school in the &lsquo40s. The big difference between then and now is that most of the students are specialists. I think our hiring practices encourage this. If a guy isn&rsquot a specialist, he feels that he won&rsquot fit into an organization.

        So, specialization is a problem?

        Specialization is more of an effect than a cause. Several things are getting us in trouble. One is schedules. We&rsquore a dynamic country and we want things done right now. When we start a program, we want to see that airplane fly as soon as possible. As a consequence, everything is driven by a deadline. If we don&rsquot fly that airplane by that date, we&rsquore in trouble. We&rsquoll take our chances on whether it performs well or not, but the first wicket is getting it up in the air. Not the cost. Not the performance.

        Most people assume that lengthy development times increase cost. That&rsquos a false assumption. You don&rsquot necessarily save money by shortening development time. It&rsquos what you do during the development time that matters. That gets to the heart of my concerns about concurrent engineering and integrated product development. We want to bring everyone on board right away to avoid problems later on. But you can&rsquot have thirty-three engineers run through one door at the same time. You have to queue up in some fashion.

        I will end up with a better and cheaper product if you let me add six or nine months onto a schedule and give me some time to sit back and contemplate what I&rsquove done. Our programs, with their tight schedules and payments conditioned on meeting those schedules, just don&rsquot allow us to do that.

        I know of no airplane flying that didn&rsquot go through an additional phase of development. For example, after building the first eleven F-l11s, we found out that it was not right. The design needed some changes. So the next airplanes were changed.

        Those first eleven airplanes were really prototypes, though they weren&rsquot done under a formal prototype contract. The F -15 went through the same sort of thing. McDonnell built so many, then they changed them. People don&rsquot go back and examine the history of these programs. You always have a certain number of production planes that never make it to the operational units.

        Did those involved in the early days of the lightweight fighter program take a historical perspective?

        Boyd and Sprey did two things in this respect. Sprey collected all the data he could get his hands on concerning fighter aircraft reliability and effectiveness. They also collected cost data. They were the first people I know of who took Air Force cost data and plotted it against time.

        They started with the P-51 Mustang. The minimum increases in cost in jumping from one airplane to another was a factor of 1.9. They were as high as 3.1 in same-year dollars. You can see the increment involved in going to jet engines, to swept wings, to supersonic, missiles, and big radars. You could see what was different between this airplane and that airplane and its effect on cost.

        The cost per pound of succeeding airplanes went up at the same rate as the overall cost. This is true even for the F-16. That is, if I plot a curve of cost per pound for succeeding aircraft, the F-16 is right on the curve. Its increment of cost per pound has gone up the same as any other airplane. However, if I plot a curve of unit flyaway cost, the F-16 falls off that curve. It reversed the upward trend in unit flyaway cost. It was the only aircraft to do this. So the way we got the cost down was by getting the size down. That was another motivation for reducing size.

        Has this approach been taken for aircraft following the F-16?

        We&rsquove done a pretty good job on improving reliability, but we haven&rsquot on cost. I&rsquom at issue with the Air Force at almost every SAB meeting I attend on cost and affordability. In every presentation, they throw out the words affordable and low cost. When I ask them to show me what they&rsquore doing to keep costs low, they can&rsquot point to anything. They just say they&rsquore going to make it low cost.

        As much as I think things are a matter of attitude, here&rsquos a case where attitude alone is not going to get you where you want to go. You must incorporate certain features to have low cost.

        I&rsquom concerned that we&rsquore only saluting the flag when it comes to low cost. I don&rsquot see anything specific being done. There are a few exceptions to this. But these are relatively small.

        How can affordability be addressed in aircraft design?

        As an example, we can get rid of more of the hydraulic and mechanical systems. We can make planes more electric and, of course, smaller.

        You said earlier that specialization is more of an effect of tight schedules than a root problem. How has an overemphasis on schedules resulted in specialization?

        People argue that we need reliability engineers because design engineers aren&rsquot paying enough attention to reliability issues. That&rsquos not true. Design engineers are interested in reliability. But they just aren&rsquot given the time to think about it. The schedule doesn&rsquot allow it. They can only address so many things between now and next Tuesday when their design is due. It&rsquos not because they don&rsquot want to, or can&rsquot. They just don&rsquot have the time.

        So we create reliability groups, parade them over here, and give them their own vice presidents . Now the designer has even less reason to address reliability because there is this other group that does this. Pretty soon, you have reliability engineers talking to reliability engineers.

        Like the tight schedules, our increased size is also getting us in trouble. For the lightweight fighter, we had a small group. We had one maintainability engineer and one reliability engineer, not a huge organization or organizations devoted to reliability and maintainability. Again, this gets back to schedules.

        All our efforts on integration within the organization seem to have the opposite effect: they have pulled us apart into little factions.

        You seem to be dissatisfied with integration attempted from within an organization. Can external factors lead to integration?

        Stealth requirements do this. To be stealthy and to fly supersonic supercruise, you have to carry weapons internally. So you have to consider the weapons up front. That benefits the design to some degree, but the approach tends to produce big airplanes. Then you also have the problems involved in getting weapons out of a cavity at supersonic speeds.

        Technology itself may have an effect. With today&rsquos computer systems, we have a better chance of integration because they&rsquore changing the way we communicate

        One of the problems we&rsquove had over the years has been our principal vehicle of communication - a drawing. With a drawing, coordination can only come about by two means. Either people gather around the drawing to see what was going on or they take the drawing and copy it and pass it around. Both of these are intrusive and interfere with the designer. A computer drawing, on the other hand, can be immediately transferred to other computers, to other places, without interrupting the person doing the work. So, technology may bring about new ways of organizing engineering groups.

        With the lightweight fighter, you seemed to have disregarded the organization. You worked outside of it, or at least out of its sight. Two questions: Is this an accurate observation? Could it be repeated today?

        I don&rsquot think too many people within the company were aware of what was going on for a long time. It was three or four years before anyone outside of Bob Widmer and one or two other people knew what we were doing.

        In answer to your second question, I refer to the prototype phase of the lightweight fighter as a Camelot- a bright, shining era that will never return. Nobody told me to start working on the airplane. I just did. I could because of the environment that existed at the time. Nobody told me to do it. Nobody told me to stop.

        The system was such that it would let me do it. Today, we&rsquore more concerned with style instead of substance. You couldn&rsquot do it today because it would look wrong. We have too many controls. So-called controls. I don&rsquot think they really control that much. If they did, I don&rsquot think GD would have run into what it did with the A-12.

        On the lightweight fighter prototype, the entire SPO [System Program Office] consisted of five people. Five people were just enough where you could have hands-on, face-to- face control, not paper-to-paper control. We had several advantages. The Air Force got exactly the same data, in the same format, as we prepared it, in virgin form. The information didn&rsquot have to go through various cycles to meet some military format. And it didn&rsquot go through a bunch of approval cycles. The way our engineer prepared it was the way the SPO engineer saw it. Because we didn&rsquot have to go through all this formalization, they also got to see it a lot sooner.

        What brought about all this formalization?

        A greater degree of distrust. The overemphasis on schedules and the specialization problem I mentioned earlier. Also the relationship today between the military and industry is more adversarial, less personal.

        The result is a formal system that insulates engineers from their counterparts on the other side. We don&rsquot have that face-to-face contact that I mentioned. We are rarely asked to communicate with people outside our own group, let alone our own company.

        As your structure becomes more complex, you lose that personal contact. Back in the B-58 days, the people working for Bob Widmer were all located in the same place. We could see each other. Our offices were next to each other. We&rsquod find ourselves in big shouting matches. We weren&rsquot concerned about using direct language because we were close. We knew who we were talking to. When we were through shouting, we knew where we were going and why we were going in that direction. Today, you don&rsquot have shouting matches. Because of this, you don&rsquot know the background to the decisions being made. This is a result of our size and complexity.

        The formalization also has a lot to do with the attitude of management. Management involves a lot of give and take. While engineers tend to think more in terms of black-and-white decisions, management does not usually involve problems with black-and-white answers. That&rsquos one reason good engineers don&rsquot necessarily make good managers. Some managers just want to dictate. They never get out of their offices and talk to their employees. That&rsquos what we miss most, that face-to-face contact. We&rsquore in a culture or an era in our culture in which we don&rsquot value contention. We place a greater value on conformity.

        Instead of asking what&rsquos good for the company, which reflects on what is good for the customer, people are more often asking what&rsquos good for their own personal pursuits. Some people base their decisions entirely on what they think their boss wants to hear.

        In the early days of the F-16, our energy was focused on the airplane. We had to promote our design. We had to promote not only the airplane, but also the concept behind it. We were breeding a thoroughbred, but that thoroughbred wouldn&rsquot do any good if there wasn&rsquot a race for it to enter. That&rsquos something GD was very good at, that is, promoting the concept behind a plane, seeing that it fulfilled an Air Force need.

        Today, I&rsquom not so sure companies do that. I don&rsquot think they have the people who look that far into the future. They&rsquore more concerned with near-term problems and personal pursuits. We have too many people thinking about how they are going to come out in pursuit of something as opposed to how the company will come out. Now I don&rsquot really fault them for the pursuit of their personal interests. For me, the company&rsquos interests and my interests have always coincided. As a company grows, however, that basic relationship can be lost.

        What part does communication, or lack of communication, play?

        One of our biggest deficiencies today is not being able to articulate our ideas and our thoughts. The best idea in the world isn&rsquot worth a hoot if I can&rsquot explain it to you clearly and with some confidence. Most engineers do not communicate well.

        Why not?

        Most reports are written to satisfy an author or a requirement, not an audience. We need to make sure that what we&rsquore saying is what our audience is hearing. That usually requires a second step. Whatever you write and whatever you say should be tailored to your audience&rsquos background and interests. You have to consider your audience, and you have to know how to consider your audience.

        More importantly, you have to believe in something in order to articulate it. Today, it is harder for people to assess their roles in an organization because organizations are so large and because there are so many specialties. This uncertainty makes it more difficult to have convictions. It makes it more difficult to be confident.

        I always knew where I stood with the people I worked for. It&rsquos extremely difficult to work for people who never tell you what they&rsquore thinking. I&rsquod much rather work for someone who criticizes me than someone who says nothing. When you hear nothing, you tend to assume the worst.

        Our education and training play an important role, too. What little report writing we get in school, for example, usually discourages the use of active voice. This practice is often reinforced at work. Active voice requires a subject. When you associate yourself with your subject, you are more likely to feel more responsible for what you write. It&rsquos &lsquoeasier to express confidence.

        The proposal for the lightweight fighter was written in active voice. We used action titles on all our figures, and we threw out a full third of the figures that various people submitted for the proposal because they could not come up with an action title. Our rationale was that if you can&rsquot think of an action title for a figure, that figure doesn&rsquot say anything. It doesn&rsquot convey a message.

        How was the proposal received by the Air Force?

        When you submit a proposal, you normally send a team to Dayton to the Aeronautical Systems Division to be on hand to answer questions. I went up there leading a team of about ten people. We sat around for a long time and received only a couple of trivial questions. At the same time, our four competitors were getting swamped with questions.

        We were pretty let down by this. We figured our proposal wasn&rsquot good enough for them to ask us any questions. We thought they just weren&rsquot interested. Like I mentioned earlier, when you hear nothing, you assume the worst. We assumed the worst.

        It turns out we were wrong. We won the competition far and away. We learned later that they didn&rsquot have any questions because the proposal was so clear and concise. It turned out to be a classic. The ASD said that it was the best proposal it had ever seen. General Dynamics and other companies subsequently used the proposal as a model.

        What made your proposal so good?

        One reason it was so good was that it was limited to fifty pages. Most proposals sound like they were written by a lot of people. The fifty-page limit allowed me to make it sound like one person wrote it. I received the fourth draft and rewrote that several times until it sounded right. The page limit also allowed all the evaluators to see the same thing. It was so small, you couldn&rsquot split it up like they do with multivolume proposals.

        How has the way proposals are evaluated changed since that time?

        I came from an era when, by and large, the most important factor in a proposal was technical excellence. Today, you cannot win on technical aspects. You can, however, lose on technical aspects. There are other considerations - like politics and cost.

        Back then, you could offset a higher cost if you could show technical superiority over your competition. But now you&rsquore judged to be technically acceptable or unacceptable. So everybody is normalized. Today, cost and politics playa much larger role.

        This approach diminishes the advantages of technically superior companies like General Dynamics. In my mind, GD is far superior to any other company in fighter aircraft design, with the possible exception of McDonnell Douglas. I&rsquod say GD and McDonnell Douglas are about equal, but not equal in the same sense. McDonnell Douglas does some things better than GD, and GD does some things better than McDonnell Douglas. But the system for evaluation no longer accounts for these differences. It wipes them out.

        That&rsquos not good. The system inhibits companies from taking technological risks.

        Has the system changed, become normalized, because there are fewer people who are capable of making these highly technical distinctions?

        No, I don&rsquot think that&rsquos the reason. In my recent work with the Scientific Advisory Board, particularly with people at the Air Force&rsquos flight dynamics and aero-propulsion laboratories, I&rsquove met some extremely qualified people. I&rsquod say that these people have more experience than most people in industry because they are exposed to what is going on at six or seven companies. A General Dynamics employee, for the most part, can only see what goes on at General Dynamics. I think the government is capable of giving us good technical evaluations.

        The reason behind the changes gets back to distrust. We seem to be consumed with all the standards and ethics.

        Your current activities seem to concentrate on aerospace systems of the future. Do they include space?

        A short time ago, at an SAB luncheon, I was seated next to Dr. Edward Teller. He was preparing for a talk the next day to Space Command in Colorado Springs and asked me if I had anything to add to his presentation. I was quite flattered by his request, but I gave him my true feelings. I told him that our unsolved problems right here on earth - pollution, education, and poverty - seemed to outweigh the importance of space projects. &ldquoAha,&rdquo he said, &ldquothose are the very things that I want to address through the use of space.&rdquo

        He talked about a system of space-based sensors that would provide continuous data on the origins of acid rain, flooding, weather patterns, and a host of other things that impact on our well being. I can now see the potential for some direct benefit to the inhabitants of this increasingly ravished planet. Before I get into trouble, I should quickly add that my attitude on space does not carry over into hypersonic vehicles, such as the National Aerospace Plane, which, by my definition, is a transatmospheric vehicle, not a space vehicle. I am a strong supporter of hypersonics.

        What is the biggest challenge facing today&rsquos aerospace engineers?

        There is no question in my mind that fly-by-wire made aircraft design much easier. Before fly-by-wire, you had a big debate about whether to configure airplanes for performance or for flying qualities. With fly-by-wire, both sides are happy. The tradeoff has been eliminated.

        Lockheed&rsquos F-117 Stealth is an extreme example. The plane represents everything you would not do for both performance and flying qualities. But the design works because it has a flight control system that is a direct descendant of the F-16&rsquos flight control system.

        The answer to your question goes back to communication. Our biggest challenge relates to integration and interfaces. There is no one person today that can, within his own discipline, come up with a decent system. We may have seven engineers working on a system. They might talk to each other. And even when they do communicate well, they don&rsquot really understand what impact their function has on another function. You will always have the problem of getting people to work together.

        Historical Snapshot

        McDonnell Aircraft formalized the concept for the F-15 in 1967 when the company was selected to enter the second phase of the U.S Air Force's FX competition. Competing against Fairchild Hiller and North American Rockwell, McDonnell used lessons learned during the Vietnam War on the changing nature of jet age air-to-air combat, given that the F-4 Phantom II was earning its reputation as a formidable fighter. On Dec. 23, 1969, after more than two years of intensive testing and evaluation, the Air Force awarded McDonnell Douglas the F-15 Advanced Tactical Fighter contract. The McDonnell Douglas team had placed first among the three competitors in all phases of the competition and had the lowest contract price.

        The F-15 is a twin-engine, high-performance, all-weather air superiority fighter known for its incredible acceleration and maneuverability. With a top speed in excess of Mach 2.5 (more than 1,600 mph or 2575 kph), it was the first U.S. fighter with enough thrust to accelerate vertically. The F-15 carries a large complement of missiles &mdash including AIM-9 Sidewinders and AIM-7 Sparrows the Boeing-built Small Diameter Bomb I, Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and Laser JDAM weapons and an internal 20 mm Gatling gun &mdash all vital for modern engagements.

        On June 26, 1972, James S. McDonnell, founder of McDonnell Aircraft, christened the F-15 "Eagle." Test pilot Irv Burrows took the first F-15 Eagle to the air on July 27, 1972, at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Six months later, the Air Force approved the Eagle for full-rate production.

        In early 1975, flying out of Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, an F-15A known as Streak Eagle set many time-to-climb world records. Between Jan. 16 and Feb. 1, 1975, the Streak Eagle broke eight time-to-climb world records. It reached an altitude of 98,425 feet just 3 minutes, 27.8 seconds from brake release at takeoff and coasted to nearly 103,000 feet before descending.

        Eagles flown by Israel's air force were the first to face a true adversary in the air. They downed more than 50 Syrian fighters with no losses of their own. In service with the U.S. Air Force, the F-15 Eagle downed MiG fighters during the Balkan conflict and the majority of Iraq's fixed-wing aircraft during Operation Desert Storm.

        To meet the U.S. Air Force requirement for air-to-ground missions, the F-15E Strike Eagle was developed. It made its first flight from St. Louis in December 1986. The Strike Eagle can carry 23,000 pounds of air-to-ground and air-to-air weapons and is equipped with an advanced navigation and an infrared targeting system, protecting the Strike Eagle from enemy defenses. This allows the Strike Eagle to fly at a low altitude while maintaining a high-speed, even during bad weather or at night.

        The F-15 has been produced in single-seat A model and two-seat B versions. The two-seat F-15E Strike Eagle version is a dual-role fighter that can engage both ground and air targets.

        F-15C, -D, and -E models participated in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. F-15s downed 32 of 36 U.S. Air Force air-to-air victories and struck Iraqi ground targets. F-15s also served in Bosnia in 1994 and downed three Serbian MiG-29 fighters in Operation Allied Force in 1999. They enforced no-fly zones over Iraq in the 1990s. Eagles also hit Afghan targets in Operation Enduring Freedom, and the F-15E version performed air-to-ground missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

        Boeing has continued to evolve the F-15 with advanced technology, and it is undefeated in air-to-air combat &mdash 101 aerial victories and 0 defeats. Production continues today with advanced models for several international customers.


        USAF F-16s were deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1991 in support of Operation Desert Storm, where more sorties were flown than with any other aircraft. These fighters were used to attack airfields, military production facilities, Scud missiles sites and a variety of other targets. USAF, Dutch, Turkish and Belgian F-16s flew air combat mission over Bosnia in 1995 performing multiple tasks in a swing-role fashion, while in 1999 during Operation Allied Force against Serbia, the F-16 had grown into a full multi-role fighter-bomber flying a variety of missions to include suppression of enemy air defense, offensive counter air, defensive counter air, close air support and forward air controller missions. Mission results were outstanding as these fighters destroyed radar sites, vehicles, tanks, MiGs and buildings. A Dutch F-16AM shot down a MiG-29 Fulcrum using a medium range air-to-air AIM-120 AMRAAM missile. F-16s also saw extended rotational deployments in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, although actual combat was foremost close air support. In 2011, USAF F-16s flew SEAD missions during the strikes against Libya, while other countries' F-16s took part in enforcing the UN resolutions for Libya.

        Israeli F-16s have been used extensively in combat, and scored 47 kills to date. They were also used in the 1981 bombing of the Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor.

        Although fourth/fifth generation types will dominate the headlines in future conflicts, upgraded and modern F-16s will continue to be deployed for combat in the coming decades.

        YF-16 prototype

        F-16XL delta-winged demonstrator

        Operation Allied Force

        USAFE F-16s at Aviano AB, Italy

        Last F-16 delivered to USAF

        Related Pages

        First Published: 10 October 2002
        Last Revised: 30 May 2014
        Last Modified: 30 May 2014

        Update log:
        30 May 2014 Layout upgrade
        18 Feb 2007 Updated