Sorin F-16 Fighting Falcon Page
F-16 Fighting Falcon
General Dynamics (since 1993 - Lockheed Martin)
Year of production:
F-16A, F-16B, F-16C, F-16D, F16-CJ Fighting Falcon
F-16E/F Desert Falcon
F-16IN Super Viper
...and the F-16 Thunderbird
United States, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Egypt, Chile, Greece, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, Japan, Italy, Morocco, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, UAE, Bahrain, Singapore, Poland, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Venezuela (former)
Photo Gallery, USAF F-16 Fact Sheet (1997)
The F-16 Fighting Falcon was made and developed by the General Dynamics Aironautical Company during the 1970s. It's prototype, YF16 becomed F16 and entered active service in the US Air Force in 1979.
At the time, the F16 Fighting Falcon had absolutely no competition in the domain of air-air combat, even if the Soviet Union was already preparing a "fight fire with fire" reply, the MiG29 Fulcrum and the Su27 Flanker. However, both the MiG and the Sukhoi were secretly developed to counter their american counterpart, the Boeing F15 Eagle, which first entered active service in 1974, not the new generation of american fighters, F18 and F16. At the time, the F-16's airodynamics seemed almoust perfect, the aircraft is very manoeuvrable, it can carry a high payload for its category (single engine jet fighter), it has a powerfull Pratt&Whitney F100 turbofan which gives to the F-16 amazing manoeuvrability, a very high acceleration and the long range it needs to attack targets well beyond the range of other single engine jets. The visibility from inside the cockpit is absolutely amazing, and the only fighter that could equal that even today, after 20 years from its apearence, it's the Eurofighter2000 Typhoon, but even the EF2000 copied its cockpit design from the F-16.
||This is the F16A Fighting Falcon
It has no precision guided air-ground capability, but for about 15 years it was the best air-air fighter
The F16A Fighting Falcon does not have the capability of attacking ground targets with precision guided munition, like the modern "smart" bombs and missiles. It only uses "dumb" unguided bombs, like the Mk20, Mk82, etc.
General Dynamics really scored one with this fighter, because even now, after 20 years in service, it is still the most capable fighter that the US Air Force has.
The F16A Fighting Falcon camed just one year later than another of America's new generation fighter, the F18 Hornet.
The F18 was especially built to fit the Navy's requirements, and the F16 to fit the Air Force's. But the US Navy couldn't had remain obsolete, so the F16B Fighting Falcon was made. The F16B is the Navy's version of the F-16, it is just about the same aircraft, just that the F16B is a two-seater, and its fuselage suffered reinforcements at the crossing of the drift with the end of the fuselage, and its landing gear was modified to resist at sustained hard landings on the carrier.
Among the years, the F-16 joined with air forces from around the world, and between the countries that had and still have such fighters in their air forces' service, let's remind United States, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Turkey, Canada, Germany, The Nederlands, Norway and many many more.
The F-16 was subject to many international disputes, one of the latest being the objection of the Turkish government, when they heard that Greece wanted to buy new F-16C/Ds in 1996.
These are 2 F16C Fighting Falcons. You can observe the AMRAAM missiles on the sidepods.
Fact: Did you knew that the F-16 is the only aircraft in the world that could carry AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles on the sidepods ? The high-weight of these missiles (compared with that of a Sidewinder-class missile) makes the wings of the F-16 dangle at landing and probably in hard turns too.
This F16C Fighting Falcon is performing an air-air refueling from an KC-135 Stratotanker.
The F15 Eagle (in the right corner), the F18 Hornet (near) and the F16 Fighting Falcon (far).
You can observe the Sidewinder missile on the F16C Fighting Falcon, while the other two have only some fuel tanks.
You can also see how small the F-16 really is compared to the other two.
This is the result of an american policy during the 1970s who could really be called "the smaller, the better". In cronological order, the F14 Tomcat, got first to the scene, and it was a remarcable fighter. 4 years later, the F15 Eagle entered in active service. It was smaller and better than the F14. 4 years later, the F18 Hornet entered service, it also was smaller and better than the F15. And finally, one year later, the F-16 entered active service, being, of course, smaller and better than the previous F18 Hornet. The F-16 closed this policy, after it the both Air Force and Navy developing bigger aircraft or at least aircraft of the same size, like the F/A 18 A/B C/D Hornet, the F/A 18 E/F SuperHornet and the F-22 Raptor.
The F16 had many remarcable results in combat, against aircraft like the MiG21 Fishbed, MiG23 Flogger,MiG29 Fulcrum , Su27 - 30 Flanker, Mirage F3, Mirage 2000, F7, etc.
In the 1980s, USAF decided to upgrade the F16As and Bs, and integrate them with the newly developed digital technology used to guide smart weapons and to integrate the new AIM-120 missile in their air-air weapons options. Also, missiles like the AGM88 and AGM84 could now also be integrated.
So emerged the F-16C Fighting Falcon (single-seatere) and the F-16D Fighting Falcon (two-seater).
These are two F16C Fighting Falcons over Colorado in October 1998. Tail 190 (further) has a 300g fuel tank in the pod bedith the fuselage and two AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles on the sidepods. Tail 254 (closer) has only a 300g fuel tank. You can observe that even if the closer F-16 doesn't has any missiles on the sidepods, there are still sharp objects coming out from the side end of the wing. These sharpings have mainly two purposes:
1° They are permanently (however they can be totally removed, as all the weapon pods on the entire aircraft) in there so that any missile (namely the AIM-120 and AIM-9) could be fit in their place in no-time in case of emergency ;
2° They are airodynamic surfaces, cutting the airflows which make very high turbulances on the side end of and aircraft's wing, especially when flying at speeds above 800 km/h. The F-16 is the only aircraft which has such permanent sharpings also for airodynamic purposes and one of the few that can carry weapons on the side end of thw wings. Also, it is the only aircraft in the world that can carry high payloads on that area, like the AIM-120 missile, not just close air-air dogfighting missiles like the Sidewinder.
All the F-16s have incorporated the Stealthy dump-in air-to-air refueling intake-gap above the fuel tank on the extrados of the plane.
A Belgium Air Force F-16 pulls up to take on fuel from a Royal Air Force Mildenhall KC-135 during NATO Air Meet '98. Twelve U.S. Air Force fighter and tanker aircraft returned home Sept. 25 after taking part in multinational air operations at Zaragoza Air Base, Spain. Four F-16 Fighting Falcons from Aviano AB, Italy, six F-15E Strike Eagles from RAF Lakenheath, England, and two KC-135 Stratotankers from RAF Mildenhall, England, participated. More than 90 aircraft and 1,200 military members from nine nations, including 115 airmen from U.S. Air Forces in Europe, supported the two-week exercise which emphasized integration among alliance air forces. (Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joe Bela)
|And here we have yet another type of probe for air-to-air refueling, one that I haven't seen much before so I'm afraid I can't really say what model it is. Perhaps is one developed in the late '90s.
The F16C Fighting Falcon looks the same as the F16A from the outside, but on the inside, everything has changed.
This F16C Fighting Falcon is flying near to a castle, in Oregon!, October 1998
Nice view !
Modern digital equipment, upgraded electronics and the capability to carry almoust any US weaponry is almoust unique in the entire aviation.
This F16C Fighting Falcon is launching a LGB (Laser Guided Bomb) in the 9th of October, 1998. You can also observe the 370 gallons fuel tank on its right wing. It has a similar one attached to the other wing too.
The F16C is one of the most versatile aircraft in the world, and it can be used in air-air engagements, as well as in air-ground engagements. Let's take a closer look to the F16C's capabilities:
The F16C Fighting Falcon
This F16C Fighting Falcon carries an AIM-9X Sidewinder missile (in the far plan), and in the near plan you can observe what I think it is an AIM7 Sparrow missile. If I'm wrong, please
me and tell me what missile is that. Nice flying day for that F-16's pilot in the 4th of september 1998.
|System of measurement
||9 000 kg
||19 841 lbs
||3 900 km
||2 105 nm
|Maximum take-off weight
||16 057 kg
||25 390 lbs
||fuel tanks 2x600g (2x2271l)
||fuel tanks 2x370g (2x1400l)
||fuel tank 1x300g (1x1135l)
||JP233 anti-airfield bomb
|M61A1 4x20mm cannon
||Pegasus anti-satellite mssl
||Maverick IR/TV/Laser-guided missiles
||Tomahawk cruise missiles
|An F16C Fighting Falcon flying at a high angle of attack in October the 4th, 1998
||The same F16C at a higher angle of attack
The propulsion of the F16 Fighting Falcon is made by an single Pratt&Whitney F100 turbofan.
The Pratt&Whitney F100 turbofan is a smokeless high-thrusted engine, which develops between 10432 kg of thrust (23000 pounds of thrust) and 13154kg of thrust (29000 pounds of thrust) at afterburner, depending on the model.
That gives the F16 an 0.819 thrust/weight ratio at afterburner/maximum weight, which is very good for an signle-engine fighter which carries that amount of weaponry.
The F16C Fighting Falcon, and its Navy version, the F16D, can carry some weaponry especially built for them, or some weaponry which is only used by the F16s, or by the F16s and F15s. The AIM120 AMRAAM, for example, is only used by Air Force's F15 Eagles and F16 Fighting Falcons, while missiles like the AGM84A HARM are only used by F16s.
This F16 Close Air Support photographed in 1989 at test in the Dryden Research Center was ment to replace the ageing A10 Warthog. But in the Gulf War the US Air Force realized the meaning of a dedicated ground attack aircraft, so the A10 Warthog will remain in service until 2010, while this version never entered service.
The F16C Fighting Falcon can carry and deliver precision air-ground guided munnitions, unlike the F16A and B versions. All the GBU Snakeyes and JDAMs weaponry enter this classification, as well as other air-ground bombs and missiles.
NASA uses a lot of fighters in order to perform a series of tests. The F16 makes no exception
The F16C Fighting Falcon is also fitted with the LANTIRN nightvision system, which is mounted directly on the HUD.
The HUD of the F16C is 4 times bigger than in the F16A or B, which makes it a lot easier for the pilot to see what's going on.
The HUD also has a focus to infinity, so it doesn't matter how big or small is the distance between the targets, the ground or other objects (even in the cockpit), because the pilot's eyes don't need to refocus to visualize all those things.
Another NASA F-16
The F16C Fighting Falcon uses an APG65 Pulse Doppler radar. This radar is also used by F18 Hornets and Harrier GR7s, and it was especially built to work with the AMRAAM missile.
The F16C Fighting Falcon was used also in Kosovo, where from this picture was taken showing lt-col Hugh Cameron flying in december 1998
The F15C Eagle and the F16C Fighting Falcon flying as a wing in late 1998.
The F16 Fighting Falcon is still the US (and many other) Air Force's main weapon of defense. Having some F16Cs in your Air Force makes you feel a lot more confortable when a conflict is near you. The F16C has a lot of capabilities, and comming at a price of only $18 million/unit, it is the best choice regardind cost/quality.
Much later russian developments, like the Su27P Flanker may have even better performances than the F16C (in some domains only), but they are more expensive, they don't have enough range, they are not reliable and they are not as advanced as the F16C. Altough the F16C is believed (mainly in the West) to be outperformed by much more primitive aircraft, like the MiG29C Fulcrum, one must also look at the technology and reliability of this fighter, all at a much cheaper price than the russians could ever offer.
However, the F16C Fighting Falcon and the Su27P Flanker never met in real combat (and I hope they never will), but small border-like conflicts saw engagements between F16s and russian MiG29s. The MiGs lost all the time, actually many MiG29s were shut down by Israeli F15s with Sidewinder missiles.
The F16 saw many conflicts since its appearence, most of which are border incidents between rival F16-using countries, and other between american F16s and other eastern-communist block-type russian weapon-users, like Iraq, Libya, etc. All the time, the americans won at no losses for their own, making a score 50:0 since the Vietnam War in all the engagements since then, but they are yet to meet their russian counterparts. Even if I believe that they will surely win that time too, I'm not very sure that the score will be 50:0.
F-16 in the world
The highest F-16 user is the U.S. Air Force and the US National Air Guard, each of who ordered an estimated nomber between 444 and 2,500 fighters as soon as the project was ready. However, among the years, F-16 production was re-started many times, and a few of those times were due to requests from the US Air Force who kept on ordering more and more fighters.
The last one of these orders was in 1999, when a large ammount of money saved for the ATF Project were spent for the purchase of tens of new F-15 Eagles and F-16C Fighting Falcons.
F16A Fighting Falcons were engaged in bluffings and threatening flights by both the Greek and the Turkish Air Forces in Ciphrus, to discurrage each-other. When Greece wanted to buy more F16s, this time the updated C model, Turkey made a big deal out of it in the UN Security Council, so the deal had to be cancelled by Greece.
However, Turkey operates a large nomber of Block 50 F-16A and F-16C Fighting Falcons, while Greece has a much smaller nomber of Block 20 F-16As.
F-16 in Benelux
This is a Belgian F-16A Fighting Falcon, the unupdated version, prior to its modification to become an AM Falcon, in the Belgium Air Force Air Show of 1998
Belgian F-16s and their pilots are called Tigers and Tiger Squadrons, therefore this F-16A is painted in the Belgium Air Force's Tiger colors especially for this air show.
Just before the YF16 project was even created, Benelux ordered 998 aircraft. Today, even tough our Allied Group BAAMA's chief and three other Belgium sources all gave me diffrent nombers, I believe Belgium has under its service no less than 190 F-16A/B Fighting Falcon models. Of those, 125 aircraft have been updated to the most advanced F-16 model in the world, which is the Belenux/Danish F-16A/B M Fighting Falcon. The AM and BM Fighting Falcon is also in active service in Denmark and The Netherlands. In the year 2000, two dutch F-16AM Fighting Falcons have visited Romania at Borcea-Fetesti AFB. It was very nice to see together the most advanced F-16 in the world (F-16AM Fighting Falcon) and the most advanced MiG21 in the world (MiG21 Lancer).
It is hard to say which one has a better technology, as the two Block 50 fighters are highly comparable. While the Lancer is more advanced than an american Block 50 F-16C, the dutch AM fits the same profile. So I'll just say that from the technologycal point of view, they are equal, altough the Lancer has the troumendous advantage of being able to carry and fire any weapon, may it be a bomb, a missile or a rocket, from both Western manufacturers or Eastern manufacturers. The MiG21 Lancer is the only aircraft in the world able to do that. The F-16 has a total superiority towards a usual MiG21 when it comes to both airodynamically as well as range/payload/manoeuvrability characteristics, however the Lancer is fitted with a totally new and much more powerful engine, has a higher payload, an acceleration even bigger than one of a typical F-16 and an increased manoeuvrability.
However, from the dogfighting point of view, the F-16AM has certain advantages towards the MiG21 Lancer. It was a wonder that the Dutch pilots, which together with the Belgium pilots are the best in the world, lost all their combats against the Romanian pilots, fact which makes the Romanian fighter pilots the best in the world.
Saudi Arabia is another big F16 user (and a big american aircraft user in generally), and has bought (or at least it wanted to buy) some F16Cs in 1996.
But Israel is probably the biggest F16 user outside the US, having a big nomber of F16s available to counteract against increasingly sophisticated russian equipment of neighbour threatening countries, like Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Lybia, Yemen, etc.
Other F16 users are Canada, and Belgium, which has used 2 F16A Fighting Falcons to fly CAP missions after some UFO siteings in Belgium. The UFOs had a much higher speed and acceleration escaped from the F16s' photocameras (and probably Sidewinder missiles too...), so the 2 F16As returned home with their tails between their legs...
The F16 Fighting Falcon also saw a lot of action in the Gulf War, even if the main fighters of that war were the F14 Tomcat and the F15 Eagle.
At a certain moment of the war, a squad of 20 F16A Fighting Falcons were above military sites near the city of Basra, when after bombing some ground targets were locked-on by some SAMs in the area. The russian-made SA2s and SA3s missed all the 20 F16s, even if probably more than 1/1 missiles/aircraft were fired. As the squad leader recalls:"I was very happy when I've checked in the guys, and 20 Falcons answered me".
Later in the 90s, F16s were called in Bosnia-Herzegovina to perform deny-flight sorties and CAP missions.
And in early 1998, F16s were again in the former Yugoslavia, but this time to determine Serbian Armed Forces to retreit from Kosovo. These missions are still going on and those F16s are still their, just in case the serbs decide to attack NATO, UN or OSCE personnel in the area.
But the latest "big" conflict in which the F16s were implicated was Operation Desert Fox, in december 1998.
After many incidents with unwilling iraqi aircraft, the F16s were finally called in to attack certain sites in december 1998.
Previous to that, many iraqi aircraft defined the deny-flight zone imposed by the UN, so the americans had to keep an eye on the sky around the clock.
In one of those tipical iraqi interfearence, while flying in the deny-flight area, 4 british Tornados were locked-on by an iraqi ground radar. There is a theoretical posibility that once locked-on, any SAM site in the area could fire upon those targets (the Tornados in this case), so the americans in the area found out and sent imediately and F16C to attack. The F16C Fighting Falcon fired an AGM88 HARM(High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile) at the ground radar, and destroyed it. Later that day, Iraq was arguing in the UN Security Council that one of their radar sites was destroyed by american aircraft, who also maked a certain nomber of human casualties. This was not confirmed by The Pentagon.
Another example of these political psichology games is the one in which the americans claimed to have shut down an iraqi MiG29, but the news were not confirmed by the Iraqis. Also, a few days later, the iraqis claimed having shut down an american fighter, but the news was not confirmed by The Pentagon.
So, after political games like these, finally, in december 1998 Bill Clinton had signed the order to attack Iraqi designated missile-bunkers, and also many other sites where there were suposed to be weapons. However, due to quite poor (or at least not enough and/or correct) intelligence, US fighters destroyed not once "targets" like hospitals and civil houses, killing many civillians. This was "properly" used by Iraqi foreign affairs secretary, who claimed a much higher nomber of casualties due to these mistakes, and maked a big deal out of them in the UN.
Now, I watched all the publical declarations of both parts (the Iraqi foreign affairs secretary's, the Bill Clinton's and the Tony Blair's statements), but I was not convinced by the iraqi foreign affairs minister of any of his "facts".
I saw all these statements live on CNN, as well as many other news stories on more channels, but all the iraqi foreign secretary could say was something like "they have bombed hospitals" or "they have bombed the pallace of the daughter of Saddam Husein". So what ? What if those "hospitals" really were ammo-sites ? Why is an international threat to bomb the pallace of the biggest and craziest dictator's daughter ? I am very sure that there're really were weapons or manufacturing facilities in these areas, but they were probably removed just before the attacks. That's why Operation Desert Fox was not as succesfull as it should have been.
If you have opinions totally oposite to mine's, or if you agree with my opinion in here, please
me and we'll talk more.
But not all the F-16s are used for combat
These are the Thunderbirds, the US Air Force's Display Team, flying on their F-16's at an airshow.
Just as the Blue Angels are the US Navy's main demo team, the Thunderbirds are their Air Force equivalent
These F-16s and their pilots can do an outstanding performance, and even tough they have no equivalent for the Blue Angel's Tuckaway Cross, I've seen them fly and they are absolutely magnificient. The first four single-seater F-16s take-off in a square formation which transforms in a rhomb (or "diamond") formation as soon as the last F-16 stopped touching the runway, as it smoothly moves in the lower-back of the Lead. I don't think I would be able to perform that maneouvre so damn smoothly and with such great timing not even after 500hrs on the bird. Those guys are definetly best-sticks of their former squadrons !:)