General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon
General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon
Service: USAF Armament: M-61A1 20mm cannon; external stations can carry up to six air-to-air missiles, conventional air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions and electronic countermeasure pods Power Plant: F-16C/D: one Pratt and Whitney F100-PW-200/220/229 or General Electric F110-GE-100/129 Speed: 1,500 mph (Mach 2) Range: 2,002 miles
One of the most versatile aircraft in the U.S. Air Force inventory, the F-16 Fighting Falcon has been the mainstay of the Air Force aerial combat fleet. With over 1,000 F-16s in service, the platform has been adapted to complete a number of missions, including air-to-air fighting, ground attack and electronic warfare.
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 fighting falcon 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.
Design of the F-16 Fighting Falcon
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. With a full load of internal fuel, the F-16 can withstand up to nine G’s — nine times the force of gravity — which exceeds the capability of other current fighter aircraft.
Inside the F-16 Fighting Falcon
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 enhanced global positioning and inertial navigation systems, or EGI, in which computers provide 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.
Background on the F-16 Fighting Falcon
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.
The 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 technology. All active units and many Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units have converted to the F-16C/D.
Why was the F-16 Fighting Falcon built?
The F-16 fighting falcon was 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. Recently, Portugal joined the consortium. The long-term benefits of this program will be technology transfer among the nations producing the F-16, and a common-use aircraft for NATO nations. This program increases the supply and availability of repair parts in Europe and improves the F-16’s combat readiness.
USAF F-16 multirole 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.
During Operation Allied Force, USAF F-16 fighting falcon multirole fighters flew a variety of missions to include 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 fighting falcon has been a major component of the combat forces committed to the Global War on Terrorism flying thousands of sorties in support of operations Noble Eagle (Homeland Defense), Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Iraqi Freedom
- Crew: 1
- Length: 49 ft 5 in (15.06 m)
- Wingspan: 32 ft 8 in (9.96 m)
- Height: 16 ft (4.88 m)
- Wing area: 300 ft² (27.87 m²)
- Airfoil: NACA 64A204 root and tip
- Empty weight: 18,900 lb (8,570 kg)
- Loaded weight: 26,500 lb (12,000 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 42,300 lb (19,200 kg)
- Internal fuel: 7,000 pounds (3,200 kg) Powerplant: 1 × General Electric F110-GE-129 (for F-16C/D Block 30-40-50) or Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220/220E afterburning turbofan
- Dry thrust: 17,155 lbf (76.3 kN)
- Thrust with afterburner: 28,600 lbf (127 kN)
- Maximum speed:
- At sea level: Mach 1.2 (915 mph, 1,470 km/h) At altitude: Mach 2 (1,320 mph; 2,120 km/h) clean configuration
- Combat radius: 340 mi (295 nmi; 550 km) on a hi-lo-hi mission with four 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs
- Ferry range: 2,280 nmi (2,620 mi; 4,220 km) with drop tanks
- Service ceiling: 50,000+ ft (15,240+ m)
- Rate of climb: 50,000 ft/min (254 m/s)
- Wing loading: 88.3 lb/ft² (431 kg/m²)
- Thrust/weight: 1.095 (1.24 with loaded weight & 50% internal fuel) Maximum g-load: +9.0 g
- Guns: 1 × 20 mm (0.787 in) M61A1 Vulcan 6-barrel rotary cannon, 511 rounds
- Hardpoints: 2 × wing-tip air-to-air missile launch rails, 6 × under-wing, 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:
- 2 × AIM-7 Sparrow
- 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
- 4 × AGM-88 HARM
- AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM)
- 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 Fuzed 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
- 4 × AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW)
- 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 or
- LANTIRN, Lockheed Martin Sniper XR & LITENING targeting pods or
- Up to 3 × 300/330/370/600 US gallon Sargent Fletcher drop tanks for ferry flight/extended range/loitering time or
- UTC Aerospace DB-110 long range EO/IR sensor pod on centerline