General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon

F-16 Fighting Falcon
Aerial view of jet aircraft, carrying cylindrical fuel tanks and ordnance, overflying desert
A USAF F-16C flying over the desert in Iraq, 2008
Role Multirole fighter, air superiority fighter
National origin United States
First flight
  • 20 January 1974 (1974-01-20) (unplanned)
  • 2 February 1974 (1974-02-02) (official)
Introduction 17 August 1978 (1978-08-17)
Status In service
Primary users United States Air Force
25 other users (see operators page)
Produced 1973–2017, 2019–present[1]
Number built 4,604 (June 2018)[2][3]
Variants General Dynamics X-62 VISTA
Developed into

The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force (USAF). Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4,600 aircraft have been built since production was approved in 1976.[4] Although no longer being purchased by the U.S. Air Force, improved versions are being built for export customers.[5] In 1993, General Dynamics sold its aircraft manufacturing business to the Lockheed Corporation,[6] which in turn became part of Lockheed Martin after a 1995 merger with Martin Marietta.[7]

The Fighting Falcon's key features include a frameless bubble canopy for good visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while maneuvering, an ejection seat reclined 30 degrees from vertical to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot, and the first use of a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire flight control system that helps to make it an agile aircraft. The F-16 has an internal M61 Vulcan cannon and 11 locations for mounting weapons and other mission equipment. The F-16's official name is "Fighting Falcon", but "Viper" is commonly used by its pilots and crews, because of a perceived resemblance to a viper snake as well as to the fictional Colonial Viper starfighter from the television program Battlestar Galactica which aired at the time the F-16 entered service.[8][9]

In addition to active duty in the U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, and Air National Guard units, the aircraft is also used by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team, and as an adversary/aggressor aircraft by the United States Navy. The F-16 has also been procured to serve in the air forces of 25 other nations.[10] As of 2015, it was the world's most numerous fixed-wing aircraft in military service.[11]

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference Def1_F-16_line_to_SC was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ "How the F-16 fighter jet put Fort Worth on the aerospace map". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Archived from the original on 24 November 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  3. ^ "Lockheed Martin Awarded Contract to Build F-16 Block 70 Aircraft for Bahrain". Archived from the original on 29 June 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  4. ^ "Lockheed Martin to deliver 4,500th F-16 fighter". McClatchy DC. 2 April 2012. Archived from the original on 31 July 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  5. ^ "F-16 Fighting Falcon – International Users". Global Security. Archived from the original on 24 August 2011. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  6. ^ Rosenwald, Michael S. "Downside of Dominance? Popularity of Lockheed Martin's F-16 Makes Its F-35 Stealth Jet a Tough Sell." Archived 14 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine Washington Post, updated 17 December 2007. Retrieved 11 July 2008.
  7. ^ "Company Histories – Lockheed Martin Corporation". Funding universe. Archived from the original on 17 April 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  8. ^ Aleshire 2005, p. xxii.
  9. ^ Peacock 1997, p. 100.
  10. ^ Stout, Joe and Laurie Quincy. "United States Government Awards Lockheed Martin Contract to Begin Production of Advanced F-16 Aircraft for Morocco." Archived 4 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine Lockheed Martin press release, 8 June 2008. Retrieved 11 July 2008.
  11. ^ "Strength in numbers: The World's Top 10 military aircraft types". FlightGlobal. 9 January 2015. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 30 October 2015.