Aircraft / Fighter aircraft / General Dynamic F-16 Fighting Falcon
General Dynamic F-16 Fighting Falcon
Netz (F-16A/B in Israeli service)
Barak (F-16C/D in Israeli service)
Sufa (F-16I in Israeli service)
1976 - present
United States - Lockheed Martin
Over 4.450 produced
- UNIT COST
$ 70 million for F-16I in 2006
Very fast and agile
Limited production cost
Only short range missiles in early models
Only dumb weapons in early models
The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a fighter aircraft of US origin. It was developed by Lockheed Martin in the early and mid 1970's to replace many of the Vietnam era fighter jets. The F-16 was a quantum leap forward in US air power due to its high performance and limited production and operating costs.
The F-16 is a single engine supersonic jet fighter with advanced aerodynamics. The fuselage blends into the swept wings and the pilot is seated high in bubble canopy that provides excellent vision. The air intake for the engine is below the cockpit and weapons and other stores are carried below the wing and fuselage and on the wingtips. The single seat version is most common and the tandem seat version is usually used for training. Compared to many other fighters the F-16 is small and combines with its negative stability it is very maneuverable.
The main armament of the F-16 has been the AIM-9 Sidewinder air to air missile. Later on this was complemented with the longer range AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-120 AMRAAM. The 20mm M61 Vulcan gatling gun is mounted as secondary armament. At first air to ground armament consists of a wide array of dumb weapons but over time modern weapon systems have integrated. These include Paveway and JDAM guided bombs, AGM-65 Maverick and AGM-84 Harpoon air to ground missiles and the AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missile.
The F-16A/B was fitted with the AN/APG-66 pulse-doppler radar. The F-16C/D feature various subversions of the improved AN/APG-68 radar, including the latest (V)9 model with synthetic aperture radar capabilities. The F-16E/F has the AN/APG-80 active electronically scanned array radar. Originally the F-16 was only fitted with electronics for firing air to air missiles. Over time various air to ground weapons were integrated and their corresponding targeting pods can be fitted. Late model F-16's feature glass cockpits with multi function displays and a helmet mounted sight is added to the very latest models.
The F-16A/B was fitted with the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-200 afterburning turbofan. The more powerful F100-PW-220 is found many F-16C/D and the latest models are powered by a variety of Pratt & Whitney and General Electric turbofans. The early F100-PW-200 engine has a maximum thrust of 104 kN while the latest F110-GE-132 has a maximum of 145 kN. Combined with its agility the F-16 is highly maneuverable and performs well in dogfight situations.
The main user of the F-16 has always been the US Air Force. During and after the Cold War many F-16's were exported to Europe and various other US allies. The F-16 remain in production and service. Many older models in service with Western nations have been phased out or exported. Nowadays the F-16 remains one of the most numerous fighter aircraft in service.
The F-16A is the first generation F-16. The F-16A is the single seat version and the F-16B the tandem seat version. Due to their older generation electronic systems, less powerful engine and limited choice of weapons the F-16A and B models are the least capable versions regarding both aerial and air to ground combat. Since very little additional systems have been integrated the A and B models are the lightest versions of the F-16.
F-16 Block 1/5/10: The first versions of the F-16 to be produced with only minor differences between the blocks.
F-16 Block 15: Improved Block 10 with larger horizontal stabilizers, two additional hardpoints, increased carrying capacity and improved radar.
F-16 Block 15ADF: Air Defense Fighter upgrade program of Block 15 for US Air National Guard with the ability to carry the AIM-7 Sparrow.
F-16 Block 20: The latest version of the F-16A with some components from the Block 50 including improved computers and color displays. Has the ability to carry AIM-7 Sparrow, AIM-120 AMRAAM and AGM-84 Harpoon.
The F-16C is the second generation F-16. The F-16C is the single seat version and the F-16D the tandem seat version. The F-16C/D are fitted with a new type of radar, have more capable computer systems, can carry a much wider range of weapons and many come with either General Electric or Pratt & Whitney engines.
F-16 Block 25: Improvement over Block 15 with much improved avionics and new F100-PW-200 or -220E engine.
F-16 Block 30: Much modified Block 25 with F110-GE-100 engine and associated larger intake. It has the ability to carry the AIM-120 AMRAAM air to air missile and the AGM-45 Shrike and AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missiles. The Block 32 is similar but has a Pratt & Whitney engine and traditional inlet.
F-16 Block 30++: Many US Block 30s have been upgraded with various components from Block 40 and 50 and have the ability to carry a much wider range of weapons.
F-16 Block 40: Improved strike version of Block 30 with night attack capability and the ability to carry the LANTIRN pod and JDAM, AGM-88 HARM, AGM-154 JSOW and WCMD. The Block 42 is similar but has a Pratt & Whitney engine.
F-16 Block 50: Improved Block 40 with GPS, better navigation system and F110-GE-129 engine. Has the ability to carry the JDAM, EGBU-27, AGM-154 JSOW and WCMD. The Block 52 models use the F100-PW-229 engine.
F-16 Block 50+: Block 50 with conformal fuel tanks, helmet mounted sight and improved radar. A Block 52 version with Pratt & Whitney engine also exists.
The F-16E and F are the latest version of the F-16. The improvements over the Block 50+ include conformal fuel tanks, AN/APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array radar, new electronic warfare system, ability to launch AIM-132 ASRAAM, AGM-154 JSOW and AGM-84E SLAM missiles and more powerful F110-GE-132 engine. Since it is only used by the UAE at this moment it is nicknamed F-16 Desert Falcon.
F-16 Block 60: The Block 60 is the only model of the F-16E/F range. There is no Block 62 since the Pratt & Whitney engine is not powerful enough for the heaviest F-16 model to date.
The F-16AM, also known as F-16A MLU, was a joint development between the USA and European F-16 users. Several European NATO nations were among the first to adopt the F-16, yet these were also some of the least capable versions. The Mid Life Update improved the avionics suite to the equivalent of the F-16 Block 50 and extended the airframe lifetime and improved ease of maintenance. This extended the range of weapons it could carry extensively and increased its air to air and air to ground capabilities significantly.
The F-16I Sufa is a special version of the F-16 Block 52+ developed for Israel. The F-16I only exists in tandem seat configuration. It differs from the F-16D Block 52+ in having conformal fuel tanks, having half the avionics replaced by Israeli designs, the ability to fire the Python 5 missile and having a helmet mounted sight.