F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, multirole fighter aircraft. It is highly maneuverable
and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. It provides
a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the air forces of the
United States and allied nations.
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
In designing the F-16, advanced aerospace science and proven
reliable systems from other aircraft such as the F-15 and F-111 were selected.
These were combined to simplify the airplane and reduce its size, purchase price,
maintenance costs and weight. The light weight of the fuselage is achieved without
reducing its strength. The F-16 can withstand up to nine G's -- nine times the
force of gravity -- with internal fuel tanks filled greater than any other current
The cockpit and its bubble canopy give the pilot unobstructed
forward and upward vision, and greatly improved vision over the side and to the
rear. The seat-back angle was expanded from the usual 13 degrees to 30 degrees,
increasing pilot comfort and gravity force tolerance.
The pilot has excellent
flight control of the F-16 through its "fly-by-wire" system. Electrical
wires relay commands, replacing the usual cables and linkage controls. For easy
and accurate control of the aircraft during high G-force combat maneuvers, a side
stick controller is used instead of the conventional center-mounted stick. Hand
pressure on the side stick controller sends electrical signals to actuators of
flight control surfaces such as ailerons and rudder.
Avionics systems include
a highly accurate inertial navigation system in which a computer provides steering
information to the pilot. The plane has UHF and VHF radios plus an instrument
landing system. It also has a warning system and modular countermeasure pods to
be used against airborne or surface electronic threats. The fuselage has space
for additional avionics systems.
The F-16A, a single-seat
model, first flew in December 1976. The first operational F-16A was delivered
in January 1979 to the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
F-16B, a two-seat model, has tandem cockpits that are about the same size as the
one in the A model. Its bubble canopy extends to cover the second cockpit. To
make room for the second cockpit, the forward fuselage 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 and wiring provisions and systems
architecture that permit expansion of the multirole flexibility to perform precision
strike, night attack and beyond-visual-range interception missions. This improvement
program led to the F-16C and F-16D aircraft, which are the single- and two-place
counterparts to the F-16A/B, and incorporate the latest cockpit control and display
Currently, most active units have converted to the F-16C/D while
existing F-16A/B aircraft will replace older aircraft in the Air National Guard
and Air Force Reserve.
The F-16 is being built under an unusual agreement
creating a consortium between the United States and four NATO countries: Belgium,
Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway. These countries jointly produced with the
United States an initial 348 F-16s for their air forces. Final airframe assembly
lines were located in Belgium and the Netherlands. The consortium's F-16s are
assembled from components manufactured in all five countries. Belgium also provides
final assembly of the F100 engine used in the European F-16s.
benefits of this program will be technology transfer among the nations producing
the F-16, and a common-use aircraft for NATO nations. Through this program the
supply and availability of repair parts in Europe is increased and improves the
F-16's combat readiness.
USAF F-16 multi-mission fighters 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.
Primary Function: Multirole fighter.
General Dynamics Corp.
Power Plant: F-16A/B -- one Pratt and Whitney F100-PW-200
turbofan engine with afterburner; F-16C/D -- one Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-200/220
or General Electric F110-GE-100 turbofan engine with afterburner.
F-16A/B, 24,000 pounds (10,800 kilograms); F-16C/D, 27,000 pounds (12,150 kilograms).
49 feet, 5 inches (14.8 meters).
Height: 16 feet (4.8 meters).
32 feet, 8 inches (9.8 meters).
Speed: 1,500 mph (Mach 2 at sea level).
Above 50,000 feet (15 kilometers)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 37,500 pounds
Range: More than 2,000 miles ferry range (1,740 nautical
Armament: One M-61A1 20mm multibarrel cannon with 500 rounds; external
stations can carry up to six AIM-9 infrared missiles, conventional air-to-air
and air-to-surface munitions and electronic countermeasure pods.
F-16A/B: $9.5 million; F-16 C/D: $12.8 million.
Crew: F-16A/C: one; F-16B/D:
Date Deployed: January 1979.
Inventory: Active force, 804; Air
National Guard, 634; Reserve, 150.
Point of Contact
Air Combat Command;
Public Affairs Office; 115 Thompson St, Ste 211; Langley Air Force Base, Va. 23665-5000;
DSN: 574-5471 or (804) 764-5471.