Since its inception in 1975, more than 4,000 F-16 Fighting Falcons in 110 versions have been produced. In addition to the United States Air Force, 24 additional countries have chosen the fourth-generation fighter to serve in their military. Some countries have purchased used F-16s from those mothballed by the U.S. Air Force.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon is capable of flying missions in total darkness and under difficult weather conditions. It was the first fighter plane to use fly-by-wire electronic flight controls with angle of attack and limiting Gs. These features enable the pilot to perform aggressive maneuvers without risk of structural failure or loss of control.
The F-16 has a solid reputation as a superior dogfighter. The frameless canopy enables improved pilot visibility and the side-mounted stick maximizes pilot control even when under tremendous G-forces. In fact, the F-16 Fighting Falcon can capably endure 9G turns!
Primarily, the F-16 has been deployed in Middle Eastern conflicts, more so than in most other conflicts situations. Israel has used F-16s against Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon beginning in 1981. During the Soviet-Afghan War, Pakistan used F-16s to destroy Afghan and Soviet aircraft.
The Fighting Falcon flew for the United States in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm and again in 1998 when Operation Desert Fox required an extensive number of bombing sorties. From 2001 until present day, the Falcon has seen service in Afghanistan for the U.S. military. In 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom relied heavily on the F-14 when U.S. forces invaded Iraq.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon remains in production and modifications continue. Some of the more recent changes have involved replacing the older avionics with new technology as well as replacing some of the antiquated weaponry with more effective armament. Here are some basic specifications for the General Dynamics F-16:
Maximum speed: Mach 2+
Range: 3,200+ miles
Ceiling: 55,000+ ft
Length: 49 ft 5 in
Wingspan: 32 ft 8 in
Height: 16 ft
Maximum weight: 42,300 lb
Empty weight: 18,238 lb
Engine(s): one Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 or one General Electric F110-GE-100 afterburning turbofan
Rate of climb: 50,000 feet per minute
Armament: Combination of guns, missiles, rockets, and bombs
Contractor: General Dynamics
If you are a current or former military pilot and would like to submit an article about your experience or a story about the F-16 or any other aircraft (whether military or civilian) then please contact us so we can help you share your stories with other veterans, military pilots and aircraft enthusiasts.