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General Dynamics 401 / F-16 Fighting Falcon




The F-16 was not originally planned as an equipment item for the inventory, but as a candidate for a Light-Weight Fighter (LWF) technology demonstrator programme to examine the possibility of building a fighter significantly smaller and cheaper than the F-15. Five companies submitted proposals for an LWF on February 28, 1972, General Dynamics and Northrop were selected to build two prototypes each, designated YF-16 and YF-17, respectively, on April 13, 1972, and on January 13, 1975, the Secretary of the Air Force announced that the F-16 was the final choice. By this time, the emergence of a market, especially among a group of European NATO nations, had caused the programme rather quickly to be recast as an Air Combat Fighter (ACF), with procurement of an operational version promised by the USAF. At the same time, the original concept of a light and uncompromised close-combat dogfighter was changed to include all-weather capability in both the air-to-air and air-to-surface roles, with heavy loads of the full spectrum of tactical stores.

The first of two prototypes (72-01567) of the YF-16 (GD model 401) was airlifted from Fort Worth to Edwards AFB in January 1974 and was officially flown for the first time of the 2nd of February 1974, although this aircraft had made an unofficial and unscheduled flight on 20 January after becoming airborne in the hands of Philip Oestricher, who elected to take off when the tailplane was damaged during high-speed taxi tests. An 'official' first flight followed on February 2, and subsequent testing was encouraging.

The chosen engine was a single Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-100 two-shaft augmented turbofan, with maximum thrust rating of 10800 kg (23810 lb) with full afterburner. This engine was chosen because it was already fully developed and in production for the F-15. Although it has a modulated variable-profile nozzle, it is fed from a simple fixed inlet and ventral duct to reduce complexity and cost. This reduces maximum high-altitude Mach number to below 2.0, but this is considered of little consequence. Virtually all modern air combat takes place at medium to low altitudes at speeds in the order of 650 km/h (404 mph), and turn radius is far more important than speed. The F-16 pilot sits in a reclining McDonnell Douglas seat (of course, with zero/zero capability) and flies with a sidestick controller resembling a miniature control column on the right cockpit console. This small controller is easy to manage under conditions of high-g acceleration, and the sloping seat also helps the pilot resist g forces. The controller hardly moves under the pilot's input demands; instead it contains transducers which sense the pilot's applied forces. The resulting electrical signals, and those from the rudder pedals, serve as primary inputs to a fly-by-wire (FBW) control system which also includes the digital autopilot, computer, weapon-delivery system and power units driving the flight controls.




The wing and fuselage are blended structurally and aerodynamically and, like the tail, incorporate major portions of graphite-epoxy composite, glass-fibre, titanium and other advanced materials. There are only five ribs in each wing, but no fewer than 12 spars, all linked to body frames. Long vortex extensions at the root give powerful lift at high angles of attack and allow the wing proper to be made significantly smaller. Along the top of the left extension strake is the M61 20-mm (0.79-in) cannon, with a 500-round ammunition drum lying transversely in the top of the fuselage. About 3162 kg (6971 lb) of fuel is housed in various cells in the wing and fuselage which are governed as two tanks, with a flight-refuelling receptacle in the top of the mid-fuselage matched to the SAC Flying Boom type of refuelling method.

Moveable leading-and trailing-edge flaps, controlled automatically by the aircraft's speed and attitude, enable the wing to assume an optimum configuration for lift under all conditions of flight. All flying controls are operated by a 'fly-by-wire' electronic system.

In the nose is a Westinghouse X-band pulse-doppler radar, with planararray aerial. It can function in many modes including air-to-air look-up or look-down, auto-acquisition dogfight, air-to-ground ranging, ground mapping, expanded mapping, doppler beam-sharpening, beacon, 'freeze' (fixed display), and two types of Sea Mode for anti-shipping missions. Delco make the computer, Marconi-Elliott of Britain, the advanced HUD (head-up display), Kaiser the head-down display (HDD) and Singer-Kearfott the inertial navigation system. Up to 6894 kg (15 200 lb) of weapons, ECM pods and tanks can be carried on nine pylons.

The YF-16 prototypes were being flown by six pilots, two each from General Dynamics, the Air Force Flight Test Centre and the Tactical Air Command. The single-seat, single-engine aircraft, 47 feet long with a 30-foot wingspan, is designed as a compact, low-cost fighter for air-to-air combat. It also can carry nearly 9,0001b of missiles and bombs for air-to-ground missions. The YF-16 is powered by a Pratt & Whitney F-100-PW-200  turbofan, the same engine used in the Air Force F-15 fighter. The F-100 engine produces about 25,0001b / 10814kg of thrust with full afterburner.

The F-16 is built in three major subsections. Some 80 percent of the airframe is made of conventional aluminium alloy, and about 60 percent is from sheet metal. Steel, composites and titanium represent about 8 percent of the structure. The wing is a cropped delta with a 40-degree leading-edge sweep. It has a 4 percent thickness/chord ratio and a 64A204 airfoil section. The structure consists of eleven spars and five ribs. Upper and lower skins are machined from a single piece. The wing is blended into the fuselage which creates a significant stowage area for internal fuel, which accounts for 31 percent of the loaded weight of the F-16. Leading edges are blended into the fuselage with strakes which, at high angles of attack, create vortices that maintain energy in the airflow over the wings, delaying root stalling and contributing to directional stability. Trailing edges have inboard “flappers” which combine the functions of flaps and ailerons. They can be drooped to 20 degrees. Leading-edge flaps contribute to the aircraft’s legendary manoeuvrability. The single vertical tail is of multi-rib, multi-spar construction in aluminium, with the skin made of graphite epoxy. Two ventral fins are made of glass fibre. There is an all-flying tailplane. Main and nosewheel gear retract into the fuselage. The single air intake is mounted underneath the fuselage, giving the F-16 its distinctive profile. This lo-cation was chosen to provide minimal airflow disturbance over a wide range of aircraft attitudes. Location of the nosewheel gear aft of the intake means that FOD (foreign object damage) ingestion problems have been minor. The intake is of fixed geometry. A separation strut provides additional tunnel ridigity. Many parts are inter-changeable between port and star-board including the horizontal tail surfaces, flaperons and most of the main landing gear. The view from the cockpit is exemplary. A polycarbonate clamshell canopy encloses the pilot who sits on an ACES II rocket powered ejection seat, cleared for ‘zero-zero’ performance up to 600 knots and/or 50,000 ft. The inside of the canopy is tinted with a thin gold film, which dissipates radar energy. The seat is raked backwards at 30 degrees, to enhance the pilot’s ability to withstand high g. Instead of a conventional control column, the F-16 is fitted with a sidestick controller mounted to starboard. “Fly-by-wire” powered controls and artificial “feel” require the sidestick to be moved only millimetres.

In April 1975, the first definitive USAF contract specified six F-16As and two tandem-seat dual-control F-16B trainers with full combat capability (the B has 17% less internal fuel). The USAF said it would buy 650 aircraft in all, but this total was subsequently been increased to a currently planned force of 1388 aircraft. On June 7, 1975, at the Paris air show, it was jointly announced by Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway that they had selected the F-16 over two other candidate aircraft to replace the F-104, buying initial totals of: Belgium 90A+ 12B+ 14 options; Denmark 40A+8B+ 10 options; the Netherlands 84 (A, B combined)+ 18 options; and Norway 60A+ 12B (no options).

In September 1976, Iran ordered 160 from the US Government, signifying its eventual requirement for a total of 300. Iran is unlikely to participate in manufacture, but the four European countries signed a complex collaborative/offset deal which gives them the right to make major parts of the airframe, engine and equipment, both for their own purchases and those of other customers including the USAF. Since 1976, Turkey has expressed a wish to join this consortium, but no decision had been announced by them by early 1978.



The first production F-16A (75-0745) flew on 8 December 1976 at Fort Worth, Texas, and the first F-16B on August 8, 1977. The first operational F-16A was delivered in January 1979 to the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah and its first overseas unit, the 8th TFW at Kunsan AB, South Korea, on 1 November 1980. The first USAF unit in Europe to re-equip with Fighting Falcons was the 50th TFW at Hahn AB, West Germany on 1 December 1981.

As part of a major policy decision to upgrade the equipment operated by second-line units, the F-16 has already reached the South Carolina Air National Guard, deliveries beginning in mid-1983, followed by other ANG units, as the aircraft were replaced in USAF by later models.

Initial USAF production versions were the F-16A single-seater and F-16B two-seat operational trainer with an extended canopy and dual controls, powered by Pratt & Whitney F100 engines and equipped with APG-66 radars. Four European countries selected the F-16A/B, with manufacture by a consortium with two final assembly lines, in Belgium and The Netherlands.

The European F-16A/B aircraft have been upgraded under the Mid-Life Update program and designated F-16AM/BM.

The F-16C and F-16D aircraft, which are the single- and two-place counterparts to the F-16A/B, incorporate modern cockpit control and display technology. The F-16C/D models were the result of a multi-national staged improvement programme (MSIP) initiated in 1980. Changes include the introduction of a more capable APG-68 radar with increased detection range and track-while-scan mode, plus new cockpit displays with multifunction CRTs and a wide-angle headup display and an increase in the maximum take-off gross weight. First flown in December 1982, the F-16C/D became the standard production model, although the earlier F-16A/B was still available for export. Following General Electric’s success in the Alternate Fighter Engine competition, F-16C/Ds delivered from FY1985 have comprised mixed batches of General Electric F110 and Pratt & Whitney F100-220 powered aircraft. Engine contracts are to be agreed annually, with the lowest bidder supplying the majority of the power plants for that year. In FY1985 General Electric provided 75 per cent of the engines needed for F-16C/D production. Export aircraft are available with either engine. The TUSAS organisation in Turkey is to build F-16C/D aircraft and F110 engines for the Turkish Air Force, which is purchasing 160 aircraft, including an initial batch supplied by General Dynamics. Deliveries of TUSAS assembled F-16s is scheduled to begin in 1988.
The F-16CJ is a modified F-16C for the SEAD role.
By June 1987 2,975 F-16s of all versions had been ordered, including aircraft for licence production (Turkey - 278, South Korea - 108, Belgium - 222, Netherlands - 300), and 1,774 had been delivered.
Early in 1987 Bahrain became the 16th nation to order the F-l6, contracting for 12 aircraft powered by General Electric F110 engines.
The Block 60 F-16E single and F-16F two-seat fighters feature technology improving the combat effectiveness and multi-role capability of the aircraft. Deliveries of these variants started to the United Arab Emirates as the first customer. The first Block 60 made its maiden flight in December 2003.
Israel took delivery of the F-16I, which is a customized version of the F-16E/F with Israeli avionics and weapons.
The F-16R is a reconnaissance version with an underfuselage pod, and the F-16N is an 'Aggressor' version for the US Navy.
General Dynamics has elected to improve the overall performance of the F-16 in the ground-attack role by install-ing a new cranked-arrow wing. With 120 per cent more wing area and two fuselage plugs lengthening the fuselage 54 ft 1.86 in (16.51 m) to accommodate the longer root chord, the double-delta F-16XL carries 82 per cent more internal fuel. Stores are carried tangentially to the wing undersurface on 17 hardpoints, and drag fully loaded is some 60 per cent less than with conventional carriage. Radar cross-section is also halved. The reduction in drag and the greater fuel capacity has a dramatic effect on the F-16XL's payload/range performance, enabling the aircraft to carry twice the payload of an F-16A to a 45 per cent greater combat radius. Penetration speeds are increased by up to 100kt to around Mach 0. 9. Air-to-air performance is also improved, with the 9g manoeuvre envelope doubling in size. Manoeuvre capability fully loaded is also improved from 5.5g to 7.33g. Instantaneous turn rate is increased. The variant first flew on 3 July 1982.
The Air Force's evaluation involved four F-15s and two F-16XLs. Boeing, Rockwell and McDonnell Douglas co-operated with NASA to set up a series of supersonic laminar flow tests involving a single-seat F-16XL in flights beginning in 1991. When these showed promise, a two-seat XL was used for the second series of fights during which more than 40 flights were completed by late 1996. Research results indicate it is possible to make a 4% weight saving by applying a laminar flow wing to supersonic airliners. Of the two F-16XLs built by GD as a private venture, one is a single-seater powered by a Pratt & Whitney F100 and the other is a two-seater powered by the General Electric F110.
During the 1970s and early 1980s considerable research was undertaken into a host of aeronautical fields but this was generally performed with conversions of existing aircraft such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon converted by General Dynamics into the F-16/AFTI for investigation of direct-force controls within the overall context of the CCV (Control-Configured Vehicle) portion of the Advanced Fighter Technology Integration programme, which was intended to create a quantum leap in fighter manoeuvrability.

The very first YF-16 (72-1567) was rebuilt in December 1975 to become the USAF Flight Dynamics Laboratory's Control-Configured Vehicle (CCV). Fly-by-wire flight controls and relaxed static stability found on all Vipers made the YF-16 an ideal candidate to evaluate control of an aircraft beyond conventional means, with independent or 'decoupled' flight surfaces. The YF-16/CCV could rise or fall using direct lift, move laterally by direct side force, or yaw, pitch, or roll regardless of the direction of flight. Twin vertical canards beneath the air intake and flight controls permitted use of wing trailing edge flaperons in combination with the all-moving stabilator. The YF-16/CCV flew on 16 March 1976, piloted by David J. Thigpen. On 24 June 1976, the ship was seriously damaged in a landing after its engine failed on approach. The flight test programme was resumed and lasted until 31 July 1977, when 87 sorties and 125 air hours had been logged.

Early in the development stage, General Dynamics wanted to market a simpler version of the F-16 for export, and teamed up with General Electric to create a version powered by the 8165kg thrust General Electric J79-GE-17X single-shaft turbojet, a development of the engine employed on the F-104 Starfighter and F-4 Phantom. As the J79-GE-119, this engine was installed on a full-scale development F-16B (75-0752) bailed back from the USAF. The Turbojet required a lower airflow than the P&W FI00-PW-200 used on all production F-16A/Bs so the shape of the air intake was altered. Since the J79 engine was 18 in (46 cm) longer than the F100, the rear fuselage was extended aft of the stabilator pivot point by that amount. The resulting F-16/79, made its first flight on 29 October 1980, and was existant in F-16/79A (single-seat) and F-16/79B (two-seat) versions.

The F-16/101 was a similarly re-engined example powered by a General Electric YJ101 two-shaft augmented turbojet engine delivering about 15,000 lb (6803 kg) thrust, had performed well on the Northrop YF- 17 and its builder wanted to demonstrate the much improved DFE (derivative fighter engine) version, capable of up to 26,500-lb (12,020-kg) thrust on a single-engine F-16. The retrofit was made on this first full scale development F-16A (75-0745) which flew with the GE engine on 19 December 1980. The F-16/101 made 58 test flights and logged 75 air hours before the programme ended in July 1981. The F-16/101 was not adopted but the way had been paved for development of an improved GE engine, the F 110, on the Fighting Falcon beginning with F-16C block 30/32 aircraft.

In June, 1975, four European countries (Belgium, Netherlands, Derunark, and Norway) announced plans to purchase 348 fighters. In February 1978, the first European F-16 assembly line opened at Sabca/Sonaca where Belgium took delivery on 29 January 1979 of the first locally-manufactured F-16 out of the country's original order for 116 aircraft (96 F-16As and 20 F-16Bs).

Belgian F-16As were serialed FA-01/136 (78-116/161; 80-3538/3546; 80-3547/3587; 86-0073/0077; 87-0046/0056; 88-0038/0047; 89-000110011; 90-0025/0027). F-16Bs were serialed FB-01/24 (78-0162/0173; 80-3588/3595; 87-0001; 88-0048/0049; 89-0012). FA-01/55 and FB-01/12 were upgraded to F-16A/B block 10 standard, while FA-56/136 and FB-25/24 were built as F-16A block is (big tail) aircraft.

Norway acquired seventy-two F-16A and B model Lawn Darts (sixty F-16As and twelve F-16Bs) from the Netherlands' Fokker production line between 15 January 1980 and 4 June 1984. Six F-16A/B block 15 (four F-16A and two F-16B) attrition replacements were later ordered.

Norway employs the F-16 in a defensive role, Scandinavian geography dictating an important anti-shipping mission. On 12 December 1979, the first Fighting Falcon for the RNAF completed its maiden flight from Fokker's Schipol plant.

Norwegian aircraft have drag chutes to operate on snowy and an identification spotlight for use during long dark winters.

In April 1978, the second European F-16 assembly line (after Belgium) opened at Fokker-VFW in the Netherlands. In May 1979, the first Dutch-assembled F-16 made its maiden flight. Holland later increased its F-16 purchase from 102 to 213 aircraft.

The USAF continues large-scale procure-ment of F-16s, with the 180 approved in FY1986 taking total purchases to 1,859. In October 1986 the F-16 won the Air Defence Fighter (ADF) competition, a modified version of the F-16A being selected instead of the Northrop F-20A Tigershark. The ADF contract will cover the modification of existing F-l6As, and will not be for new-build aircraft. In April 1987 the US Navy took delivery of the first F-16N supersonic adversary aircraft of the 26 ordered.

By 1994, production of the F-16 had been taken over by Lockheed Martin.

On 18 March 2005, Lockheed Martin Aero plant in Fort Worth, Texas, delivered the final F-16 Fighting Falcon for the US Air Force. Lockheed Martin continues to produce the F-16 fighter for international customers. A total of 2231 F-16s have been produced for the U.S. Air Force.








USAF, US Navy, Bahrain, Belgium, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela


YF-16 (model 401)
Engine: 1 x Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-100 turbofan, 10800 kg (23810 lb)
Length: 47 ft
Wingspan: 30 ft
Fuel: 3162 kg (6971 lb)
External stores: 6894 kg (15 200 lb)
Armament: M61 20-mm (0.79-in) cannon, 500-round
Pylons: nine
Seat: 1

Engine: Pratt & Whitney F-100-PW-200 turbofan, 25,0001b / 10814kg thrust
Maximum speed: Mach 1.95

Engine: P&W F100-220, Normal-12,420 lb st, military-14,670 lb st, afterburn-23,830 lb st.
Length: 47.638 ft / 14.52 m
Height: 16.699 ft / 5.09 m
Wingspan: 31.004 ft / 9.45 m
Wing area: 300 sq ft (27,9 sq.m).
Max take off weight : 35390.3 lb / 16050.0 kg
Empty wt: 15,137 lb (6 865 kg).
Internal fuel: 6,972 lb (3 162 kg).
Max. weight carried : 19800.9 lb / 8980.0 kg
Air superiority gross weight: 23,357 lb (10952 kg) with ammunition and two Sidewinders.
Wing loading: 78 lb/sq ft (397 kg/ sq.m).
Thrust/weight ratio: 1.02.
Max. speed : 1158 kts / 2145 km/h
Cruising speed : 533 kts / 988 km/h
Initial climb rate : 41338.58 ft/min / 210.0 m/s
Service ceiling : 50000 ft / 15240 m
Range : 1042 nm / 1930 km
Fuel fraction: 30%.
Armament : 1x MK 20mm M61A1, 5440kg ext 9pt. / 2-6 AIM-9 Sidewinder
Seats: 1.

Engine: P&W F100-220, Normal-12,420 lb st, military-14,670 lb st, afterburn-23,830 lb st.
Wingspan: 10m.
Length: 15.03m.
Height: 5.09m.
Wing area: 27.9sq.m.
Empty wt: 7909 kg.
Internal fuel: 2745 kg.
MTOW: 16,057 kg.
Seats: 2

Engine: General Elec-tric F110
Seats: 1

Engine: Pratt & Whitney F100-200 turbofan, 23,840 lb
Wingspan: 31 ft / 9.45 m
Length: 49 ft 6 in / 15.09 m
MTOW: 35,400 lb / 16,057 kg
Max speed: 1350 mph / 2173 kph
Max ferry range: 2415 sm / 3890 km
Armament: 1 x 20 mm cannon (515 rds)
External load: up to 20,450 lb / 9276 kg

F-16C Fighting Falcon
Engine: 1 x Pratt & Whitney F100-220 or General Electric F110-GE-100
Installed thrust (dry - reheat): 67 - 113 kN. / 27,600 - 23,450 lb / 12,519 – 10,637 kg
Span: 10 m / 32 ft 9.75 in
Length: 15.1 m / 49 ft 4 in
Wing area: 27.87 sq.m / 300.0 sq.ft
Height: 16 ft 8.5 in / 4.09 m
Empty wt: 8315 kg / 18,335 lb
MTOW: 19,187 kg / 42,300 lb
Warload: 5413 kg.
Max speed: 1320+ mph / 2124+ kph / M2+ at 40,000ft/12,190m
Initial ROC: 50,000+ fpm / 15,240+ m/s
Ceiling: 18,000+ m.
TO run: 760 m.
Ldg run: 760 m.
Combat radius: 925+ km / 575+ mi
Fuel internal: 4060 lt.
Air refuel: Yes.
Armament: 1 x 20 mm, 2/4/6 x AAM
Hard points: 5 + 2 wing tips.
Disposable stores: 20,450 lb / 9276 kg
Seats: 1.

Engine: Pratt & Whitney F100, or General Elec-tric F110 or Pratt & Whitney F100-220
Seats: 1

Engine: Pratt & Whitney F100, or General Elec-tric F110 or Pratt & Whitney F100-220
Seats: 2

Engine: 1 x General Electric F110, 7700/13150kg
Max take-off weight: 21770 kg / 47995 lb
Wingspan: 10.4 m / 34 ft 1 in
Length: 16.5 m / 54 ft 2 in
Wing area: 62 sq.m / 667.36 sq ft
Max. speed: 2200 km/h / 1367 mph
Crew: 1

Engine: General Electric F110
Length: 54 ft 1.86 in (16.51 m)
Hardpoints: 17
Penetration speed: Mach 0. 9.
Manoeuvre capability: 7.33g.
Seats: 2

Engine: Pratt & Whitney F100
Length: 54 ft 1.86 in (16.51 m)
Hardpoints: 17
Penetration speed: Mach 0. 9.
Manoeuvre capability: 7.33g.
Seat: 1

Engine: General Electric J79-GE-119

Engine: General Electric YJ101, 26,500-lb (12,020-kg)

Engine: 1 x P+W F-100-PW-100, 112.1kN
Max take-off weight: 9780-15000 kg / 21561 - 33070 lb
Empty weight: 6330 kg / 13955 lb
Wingspan: 9.3 m / 30 ft 6 in
Length: 14.4 m / 47 ft 3 in
Height: 5.0 m / 16 ft 5 in
Wing area: 26.0 sq.m / 279.86 sq ft
Max. speed: M1.2
Ceiling: 19000 m / 62350 ft
Range w/max.fuel: 3200 km / 1988 miles
Range w/max.payload: 500 km / 311 miles
Armament: 1 x 20mm machine-guns, 5000kg of bombs or missiles
Crew: 1

Engine: one 129 kN (26,000 lb st) General Electric F110-GE-129 or Pratt & Whitney F100-P-229 turbofan
Length 15.03m (49 ft 4 in)
Height 5.09m (16 ft 8.5 in)
Wing span (over tip launchers) 9.45m (31ft 0 in)
Take-off weight (clean): 9.791 kg (21,585 lb)
Max Take-Off Weight: 19.187 kg (42,300 lb)
Armament: one 20mm M61A1 Vulcan six-barrel gun 515 rounds; 9276 kg (20,450 lb) of disposable stores
Hardpoints: nine



General Dynamics F-16



General Dynamics F-16XL




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