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General Dynamics F-16

The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a highly maneuverable, supersonic, and multi-role tactical fighter aircraft that was originally developed for the United States Air Force.

Initially designed for air superiority during the day, it has since evolved into an all-weather multirole aircraft.

Over 4,600 units have been produced since it was first approved for production in 1976, with improved versions being built for export customers despite no longer being purchased by the USAF.

In 1993, General Dynamics sold its aircraft manufacturing business to Lockheed Corporation, which later became part of Lockheed Martin after a merger with Martin Marietta in 1995.

The F-16’s unique features include a frameless bubble canopy, a side-mounted control stick, and an ejection seat that’s reclined 30 degrees from vertical to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot.

It was also the first aircraft to use a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire flight control system, which makes it highly agile.

The F-16 is armed with an internal M61 Vulcan cannon and can mount weapons and other mission equipment in 11 locations.

While its official name is Fighting Falcon, it’s commonly called Viper by its pilots and crews because of its resemblance to a viper snake and the fictional Colonial Viper starfighter from the TV series Battlestar Galactica.

In addition to active duty in the USAF, Air Force Reserve Command, and Air National Guard units, the F-16 is also used by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team and as an adversary/aggressor aircraft by the United States Navy.

It has also been procured to serve in the air forces of 25 other nations.

As of 2015, it was the world’s most numerous fixed-wing aircraft in military service.

The F-16 was designed to be relatively inexpensive to build and simpler to maintain than earlier-generation fighters.

The airframe is built with aviation-grade aluminium alloys, steel, composites, and titanium.

It has a thrust-to-weight ratio greater than one, providing power to climb and accelerate vertically.

The air intake was placed to minimize air flow losses and reduce aerodynamic drag.

While the LWF program called for a structural life of 4,000 flight hours and capable of achieving 7.33-g with 80% internal fuel, GD’s engineers designed the F-16’s airframe life for 8,000 hours and 9-g manoeuvres on full internal fuel, which proved advantageous as the aircraft’s mission changed from solely air-to-air combat to multi-role operations.

However, changes in operational use and additional systems have increased weight, necessitating multiple structural strengthening programs.


The F-16 aircraft models are labeled with increasing block numbers to indicate upgrades.

These blocks apply to both single and two-seat versions.

Over the years, multiple improvements in software, hardware, systems, weapons compatibility, and structure have been introduced to upgrade production models and retrofit delivered aircraft.

Although many F-16s adhere to these block designs, numerous other versions with significant changes exist, usually due to modification programs.

Some modifications have resulted in role specialization, such as close air support and reconnaissance variants.

Additionally, several models were developed to test new technology.

The F-16 design has also influenced the creation of other aircraft, regarded as derivatives. Furthermore, older F-16s are being converted into QF-16 drone targets.


The F-16A (single seat) and F-16B (two seat) were the first versions produced, and came in Block 1, 5, 10, 15, and 20 variants.

The Block 15 version was a significant change, as it featured larger horizontal stabilizers.

With 475 produced, it remains the most common variant of the F-16.

Additionally, many F-16A and B aircraft have been updated to meet the Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) Block 20 standard, resulting in them being functionally equivalent to mid-production C/D models.


In 1984, the F-16C (single seat) and F-16D (two seat) variations were put into production.

The initial C/D model was the Block 25, which had upgraded cockpit avionics and radar systems that provided all-weather capability with beyond-visual-range (BVR) AIM-7 and AIM-120 air-to-air missiles.

Following that, there were the Blocks 30/32, 40/42, and 50/52 C/D versions.

The F-16C/D had a unit cost of US$18.8 million (1998).

The operational cost per flight hour has been estimated to be between $7,000 to $22,470 or $24,000, depending on the method of calculation.


The F-16E (single-seat) and F-16F (two-seat) are advanced versions of the F-16 Block 60.

They are built on the F-16C/D Block 50/52 platform and were developed with significant investments from the United Arab Emirates.

These aircraft have upgraded features including an improved AN/APG-80 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, better avionics, conformal fuel tanks (CFTs), and a more powerful General Electric F110-GE-132 engine.


Lockheed Martin submitted the F-16IN Super Viper for the Indian MRCA competition to supply the Indian Air Force.

The F-16IN is modeled after the F-16E/F Block 60 and comes equipped with features such as conformal fuel tanks, an AN/APG-80 AESA radar, a GE F110-GE-132A engine with FADEC controls, an electronic warfare suite, an Infra-red search and track (IRST) unit, an updated glass cockpit, and a helmet-mounted cueing system.

However, the F-16IN is no longer in the running for the competition since 2011.

In 2016, Lockheed Martin proposed the new F-16 Block 70/72 version to India as part of the Make in India program.

The Indian government offered to purchase 200 (with potential for up to 300) fighters in a deal valued at $13-15 billion.

As of 2017, Lockheed Martin has partnered with Indian defense firm Tata Advanced Systems Limited to manufacture F-16 Block 70 fighters in India.

The production line could be used to build F-16s for India and for exports.


In September 2010, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency notified the United States Congress of a proposed sale of 18 F-16IQ aircraft, along with related equipment and services, to the recently re-established Iraqi Air Force.

The total value of the sale is approximately US$4.2 billion.

In September 2010, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency notified the United States Congress of a proposed sale of 18 F-16IQ aircraft, along with related equipment and services, to the recently re-established Iraqi Air Force.

The total value of the sale is approximately US$4.2 billion.


The United States Navy operated the F-16N, which served as an adversary aircraft.

Based on the standard F-16C/D Block 30 model, it was powered by the General Electric F110-GE-100 engine and could perform a Super cruise.

The aircraft featured a reinforced wing and could carry an Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation pod on the starboard wingtip.

Despite being built on the early-production small-inlet Block 30 F-16C/D airframe, both single-seat and twin-seat (T)F-16Ns retained the APG-66 radar of the F-16A/B.

The aircraft’s 20 mm cannon and ASPJ were removed, and they were not equipped with missiles.

Their EW fit included an ALR-69 radar warning receiver and an ALE-40 chaff/flare dispenser.

The F-16Ns and (T)F-16Ns were not capable of being deployed on aircraft carriers and had the standard Air Force tailhook and undercarriage.

A total of 26 airframes were produced, with 22 single-seat F-16Ns and four twin-seat TF-16Ns.

From 1988 to 1998, the initial batch of aircraft was in service, but were later retired due to hairline cracks found in several bulkheads.

One aircraft was sent to the collection of the National Naval Aviation Museum at NAS Pensacola, Florida, and the rest were placed in storage at Davis-Monthan AFB.

In 2003, these aircraft were replaced by embargoed ex-Pakistani F-16s.

The adversary squadrons at NAS Oceana, Virginia, NAS Key West, Florida, and the former NAS Miramar, California, previously operated the original inventory of F-16Ns.

Currently, the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center at NAS Fallon, Nevada, operates the F-16A/B aircraft.


Lockheed Martin revealed plans for a new variant of the F-16 fighter jet at the 2012 Singapore Air Show.

The new version, nicknamed the Viper and designated the F-16V, features several upgrades including an AN/APG-83 AESA radar, improved mission computer and electronic warfare suite, automated ground collision avoidance system, and cockpit improvements.

This package can be added as an option to current production F-16s and retrofitted to many in-service F-16s.

The first flight of the F-16V took place on October 21, 2015.

Both Lockheed and AIDC invested in the development of the aircraft and will share revenue from all sales and upgrades.

Upgrades to Taiwan’s F-16 fleet began in January 2017, while Bahrain became the first country to confirm the purchase of 16 new F-16V Block 70/72.

In October 2017, Greece announced the upgrade of 84 F-16C/D Block 52+ and Block 52+ Advanced to the latest V variant, and Slovakia announced its intention to purchase 14 F-16V Block 70/72 aircraft in July 2018.

Lockheed Martin has rebranded the F-16V Block 70 as the “F-21” in its bid for India’s fighter requirement.

Taiwan’s Republic of China Air Force requested the purchase of an additional 66 F-16V jets in March 2019, which was approved by the Trump administration on August 20, 2019.

In August 2020, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $62 billion contract by the US Department of Defence, which includes 66 new F-16s at a cost of $8 billion for Taiwan.


Back in September 2013, Boeing partnered with the US Air Force to conduct a test flight of an unmanned F-16.

The aircraft was flown from Tyndall AFB over the Gulf of Mexico, with two US Air Force pilots controlling it remotely from the ground.





49 ft 5 in (15.06 m)


32 ft 8 in (9.96 m)


16 ft (4.9 m)

Wing area

300 sq ft (28 m2)


NACA 64A204

Empty weight

18,900 lb (8,573 kg)

Gross weight

26,500 lb (12,020 kg)

Max take-off weight

42,300 lb (19,187 kg)

Fuel capacity

7,000 pounds (3,200 kg) internals


1 × General Electric F110-GE-129 afterburning turbofan (for Block 50 version),

17,155 lbf (76.31 kN) thrust dry, 29,500 lbf (131 kN) with afterburner.


1 × Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 afterburning turbofan (for Block 52 version),

17,800 lbf (79 kN) thrust dry, 29,560 lbf (131.5 kN) with afterburner.


Maximum speed

Mach 2.05 1,145 kn (1,318 mph; 2,121 km/h) at 40,000 feet, clean

Mach 1.2, 800 kn (921 mph; 1,482 km/h) at sea level

Combat range

295 nmi (339 mi, 546 km) on a hi-lo-hi mission with 4 × 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs

Ferry range

2,277 nmi (2,620 mi, 4,217 km) with drop tanks

Service ceiling

60,000 ft (18,000 m)

G limits


Roll rate


Rate of climb

72,000 ft/min (370 m/s)

Wing loading

88.3 lb/sq ft (431 kg/m2)


1.095 (1.24 with loaded weight & 50% internal fuel)



1 × 20 mm (0.787 in) M61A1 Vulcan 6-barrel rotary cannon, 511 rounds


2 × wing-tip air-to-air missile launch rails,

6 × underwing, and 3 × under fuselage pylon (2 of 3 for sensors) stations with a capacity of up to 17,000 lb (7,700 kg) of stores,


4 × LAU-61/LAU-68 rocket pods (each with 19/7 × Hydra 70 mm/APKWS rockets, respectively)

4 × LAU-5003 rocket pods (each with 19 × CRV7 70 mm rockets)

4 × LAU-10 rocket pods (each with 4 × Zuni 127 mm rockets)


Air-to-air missiles

6 × AIM-9 Sidewinder

6 × AIM-120 AMRAAM

6 × IRIS-T

6 × Python-4

6 × Python-5

Air-to-surface missiles

6 × AGM-65 Maverick

2 × AGM-88 HARM

AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM)

4 × AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW)

Anti-ship missiles

2 × AGM-84 Harpoon

4 × AGM-119 Penguin


8 × CBU-87 Combined Effects Munition

8 × CBU-89 Gator mine

8 × CBU-97 Sensor Fused Weapon

4 × Mark 84 general-purpose bombs

8 × Mark 83 GP bombs

12 × Mark 82 GP bombs

8 × GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB)

4 × GBU-10 Paveway II

6 × GBU-12 Paveway II

4 × GBU-24 Paveway III

4 × GBU-27 Paveway III

4 × Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) series

Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD)

B61 nuclear bomb

B83 nuclear bomb


SUU-42A/A Flares/Infrared decoys dispenser pod and chaff pod or

AN/ALQ-131 & AN/ALQ-184 ECM pods on centreline


LANTIRN, Lockheed Martin Sniper XR & LITENING targeting pods.


AN/ASQ-213 HARM Targeting System (HTS) Pod

(Typically configured on station 5L with Sniper XR pod on station 5R)


Up to 3 × 300/330/370/600 US gallon Sergeant Fletcher drop tanks for ferry flight/extended range/loitering time


UTC Aerospace DB-110 long range EO/IR sensor pod on centreline


AN/APG-68 radar.

MIL-STD-1553 bus.



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