General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon

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**Development and Evolution**
– The US Vietnam War spurred the need for air superiority fighters and better training.
– Colonel John Boyd and Thomas Christie developed the energy–maneuverability theory.
– The Lightweight Fighter (LWF) concept emerged, leading to the YF-16 prototype.
– The LWF program transitioned into the Air Combat Fighter (ACF) competition.
– The F-16 design underwent significant changes for production and international orders.

**Global Usage and Production**
– The F-16 is utilized by various US Air Force units, other nations, and aerobatic teams.
– Over 25 countries have procured the F-16, making it the most common fixed-wing military aircraft.
– Production of the F-16 began in Fort Worth, Texas, and later moved to Greenville, South Carolina.
– Upgrades and improvements have been implemented to enhance the F-16’s capabilities.
– The F-16’s design, armament, and aerodynamics contribute to its operational success.

**Key Features and Design**
– The F-16’s features include a frameless bubble canopy, side-mounted control stick, and fly-by-wire system.
– It is equipped with an internal cannon, multiple hardpoints, and advanced avionics.
– The F-16’s relaxed static stability design and aerodynamics enhance maneuverability.
– Structural design prioritizes cost-effectiveness and simplified maintenance.
– Cockpit ergonomics, fire-control radar, and propulsion systems contribute to pilot efficiency and safety.

**Avionics and Upgrades**
– The F-16 incorporates advanced avionics like HUD, MFD, and radar systems.
– Upgrades such as the MLU, JHMCS, and APG-68 enhance combat capabilities.
– Propulsion systems like the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-200 and AN/APG-83 radar are key components.
– Flight control systems, cockpit ergonomics, and fire-control radars are crucial for operational effectiveness.
– Avionics advancements and upgrades ensure the F-16 remains a formidable multirole fighter.

**Production Relocation and Maintenance**
– Lockheed Martin relocated F-16 production from Fort Worth to Greenville, South Carolina.
– Production and delivery of F-16s to various nations continue to support global defense needs.
– Structural design elements like aluminum alloys and honeycomb structures enhance performance.
– Maintenance features like reduced lubrication points and access panel accessibility streamline upkeep.
– Ongoing production in Greenville ensures the F-16 remains a vital asset for air forces worldwide.

The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is an American single-engine supersonic multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force (USAF). Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft with over 4,600 built since 1976. Although no longer purchased by the U.S. Air Force, improved versions are being built for export. In 1993, General Dynamics sold its aircraft manufacturing business to the Lockheed Corporation, which became part of Lockheed Martin after a 1995 merger with Martin Marietta.

F-16 Fighting Falcon
Aerial view of jet aircraft, carrying cylindrical fuel tanks and ordnance, overflying desert
A USAF F-16C flying over the desert in Iraq, 2008
Role Multirole fighter, air superiority fighter
National origin United States
First flight
  • 20 January 1974; 50 years ago (1974-01-20) (unplanned)
  • 2 February 1974; 50 years ago (1974-02-02) (official)
Introduction 17 August 1978; 45 years ago (1978-08-17)
Status In service
Primary users United States Air Force
25 other users (see operators page)
Produced 1973–2017, 2019–present
Number built 4,604 (as of June 2018)
Variants General Dynamics X-62 VISTA
Developed into

The Fighting Falcon's key features include a frameless bubble canopy for enhanced cockpit visibility, a side-mounted control stick to ease control while maneuvering, an ejection seat reclined 30 degrees from vertical to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot, and the first use of a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire flight control system that helps to make it an agile aircraft. The F-16 has an internal M61 Vulcan cannon and 11 hardpoints.

In addition to active duty in the U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, and Air National Guard units, the aircraft is also used by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team, the US Air Combat Command F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, and as an adversary/aggressor aircraft by the United States Navy. The F-16 has also been procured by the air forces of 25 other nations. As of 2023, it is the world's most common fixed-wing aircraft in military service, with 2145 F-16s operational.

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