In an air combat role, the F-16's maneuverability and combat radius (distance it can fly to enter air combat, stay, fight and return) exceed that of all potential threat fighter aircraft. It can locate targets in all weather conditions and detect low flying aircraft in radar ground clutter. In an air-to-surface role, the F-16 can fly more than 500 miles (860 kilometers), deliver its weapons with superior accuracy, defend itself against enemy aircraft, and return to its starting point. An all-weather capability allows it to accurately deliver ordnance during non-visual bombing conditions
In designing the F-16, advanced aerospace science and provenreliable systems from other aircraft such as the F-15 and F-111 wereselected. These were combined to simplify the airplane and reduce itssize, purchase price, maintenance costs and weight. The light weight ofthe fuselage is achieved without reducing its strength. With a fullload of internal fuel, the F-16 can withstand up to nine G's -- ninetimes the force of gravity -- which exceeds the capability of othercurrent fighter aircraft.
F-16 Fighting Falcon's cockpit and its bubble canopy give the pilotunobstructed forward and upward vision, and greatly improved visionover the side and to the rear.The seat-back angle was expanded from the usual 13 degrees to 30degrees, increasing pilot comfort and gravity force tolerance. Thepilot has excellent flight control of the F-16 through its"fly-by-wire" system. Electrical wires relay commands, replacing theusual cables and linkage controls. For easy and accurate control of theaircraft during high G-force combat maneuvers, a side stick controlleris used instead of the conventional center-mounted stick. Hand pressureon the side stick controller sends electrical signals to actuators offlight control surfaces such as ailerons and rudder.
F-16 Fighting Falcon's Avionics systems include a highly accurateinertial navigation system in which a computer provides steeringinformation to the pilot. The plane has UHF and VHF radiosplus an instrument landing system. It also has a warning system andmodular countermeasure pods to be used against airborne or surfaceelectronic threats. The fuselage has space for additional avionicssystems.
The F-16A, a single-seat model, firstflew in December 1976. The first operational F-16A was delivered inJanuary 1979 to the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
The F-16B, a two-seat model, has tandem cockpits that are about thesame size as the one in the A model. Its bubble canopy extends to coverthe second cockpit. To make room for the second cockpit, the forwardfuselage fuel tank and avionics growth space were reduced. During training, the forward cockpit is used by a student pilot with an instructor pilot in the rear cockpit.
All F-16s delivered since November 1981 have built-in structural andwiring provisions and systems architecture that permit expansion of themultirole flexibility to perform precision strike, night attack andbeyond-visual-range interception missions. This improvement program ledto the F-16C and F-16D aircraft, which are the single- and two-placecounterparts to the F-16A/B, and incorporate the latest cockpit controland display technology. All active units and many Air National Guardand Air Force Reserve units have converted to the F-16C/D.
The F-16 was built under an unusual agreement creating a consortiumbetween the United States and four NATO countries: Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlandsand Norway. These countries jointly produced with the United States aninitial 348 F-16s for their air forces. Final airframe assembly lineswere located in Belgium andthe Netherlands . The consortium's F-16s areassembled from components manufactured in all five countries. Belgiumalso provides final assembly of the F100 engine used in the EuropeanF-16s. Recently, Portugal joined the consortium. The long-term benefitsof this program will be technology transfer among the nations producingthe F-16, and a common-use aircraft for NATO nations. This programincreases the supply and availability of repair parts in Europe and improves the F-16's combat readiness.
During Operation AlliedForce, USAF F-16 multirole fighters flew a variety of missions toinclude 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.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the F-16 has been a major component of thecombat forces committed to the Global War on Terrorism flying thousandsofsorties in support of operations Noble Eagle (Homeland Defense), Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Iraqi Freedom
F-16 Fighting Falcon General Technical CharacteristicsPrimary Function: Multirole fighter
Builder: Lockheed Martin Corp.
Power Plant: F-16C/D: one Pratt and Whitney F100-PW-200/220/229 or General Electric F110-GE-100/129
Thrust: F-16C/D, 27,000 pounds
Length: 49 feet, 5 inches (14.8 meters)
Height: 16 feet (4.8 meters)
Wingspan: 32 feet, 8 inches (9.8 meters)
Speed: 1,500 mph (Mach 2 at altitude)
Ceiling: Above 50,000 feet (15 kilometers)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 37,500 pounds (16,875 kilograms)
Range: More than 2,000 miles ferry range (1,740 nautical miles)
Armament: OneM-61A1 20mm multibarrel cannon with 500 rounds; external stations cancarry up to six air-to-air missiles, conventional air-to-air andair-to-surface munitions and electronic countermeasure pods
Unit cost: F-16A/B , $14.6 million (fiscal 98 constant dollars); F-16C/D,$18.8 million (fiscal 98 constant dollars)
Crew: F-16C, one; F-16D, one or two
Date Deployed: January 1979
Inventory: Active force, F-16C/D, 738; Reserve, F-16C/D, 69; and Air National Guard, F-16C/D,