US Air Force F-16 Fighter Plane

US Air Force F-16 Fighter Plane

In the 70s a multipurpose, single-engine fighter was developed by the American aerospace conglomerate General Dynamics for the US Air Force, called the F 16 Fighter which would be put into service in 1978. Its original design was a light fighter, but it evolved into a sophisticated multipurpose fighter.

In 1993, the Fighting Falcon was discontinued by General Dynamics, prompting that company to sell its aircraft production business to Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin, through a 1995 merger with Martin Marietta.

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At present, these aircraft are not built for the US Air Force, but the production is for export, with great success having been sold to air forces in 25 countries, and has been built under license in countries such as Belgium, South Korea, the Netherlands and Turkey.

More than 4,570 aircraft have been built since 1976, and the largest Western jet fighter program has been involved in many conflicts worldwide.

The failures revealed in the Vietnam War in the capacities of the American fighter planes, demonstrated that they were not suitable for close air combat, this way the FX program is born, looking for a fighter of proven air superiority, with twin engine design and variable geometric wing, choosing the F15 project.

However, a group called Fighter Mafia, exposed reasons that indicated the bad way by which the project of the F15 was going, and with support of the Congress and the secretary of defense they manage in January of the 71 to begin the program Lightweight Fighter, light fighter.

Thus, in April 1972, the General Dynamics models 401 and P 530 were chosen, which later became the YF-16 and the YF-17. The YF-16 was of an absolutely new design, including a great number of technological innovations, such as fly-by-wire, instability and advanced cockpit controls.

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Technical Features of the F16

  • Crew of a pilot
  • Length of 14.8 m
  • Wingspan of 9.8 m
  • Height of 4.8 m
  • Wing area of 27.9 m²
  • Empty weight of 8670 kg
  • 12 000 kg loaded weight
  • Maximum take-off weight of 19,200 kg
  • Propulsion 1 × turbofan, Pratt & Whitney afterburner F100-GE-100
  • 26 degrees per second rotation rate
  • Maximum operating speed 2414 km/h MPH; 794 kt at sea level
  • 550 km action radius
  • Range by ferry of 4220 km
  • Flight ceiling of 18 288 m
  • Armament
  • 1 M61A1 Vulcan six 20 mm rotary cannon
  •  Pumps
  •  4 Mark 84 general purpose pumps, 8 Mark 83 general purpose pumps, 12 Mark 82 general purpose pumps
  • 4 laser guided pumps GBU-10, 6 lasers guided pumps GBU-12
  • 4 satellite-guided pumps GBU-31, 8 satellite-guided pumps GBU-39
  • 8 CBU-87 CEM cluster bombs, 8 CBU-89 GATOR cluster bombs, 8 CBU-97 SFW cluster bombs
  • Rockets
  • 4 rocket container LAU-61 or LAU-68
  • 4 rocket container LAU-5003
  • 4 rocket container LAU-10
  • Missiles
  •  6 AIM-9 air-to-air missiles
  •  2 AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles
  • 6 air-surface missiles AGM-65 Maverick
  •  6 AGM-45 Shrike anti-radiation missiles
  • Avionics
  •  Doppler pulse radar
  • Global positioning system
  • Inertial navigation system
  •  Electronic flight control system, four fly-by-wire channels
  •  Front display screen


Facts of the F16

  • January 1974, first flight of the YF-16 prototype at Edwards Air Force Base
  • February 2, 1974 first planned flight, reached an altitude of 9,000 m and a speed of more than 600 km/h
  • Delivered to the US Air Force on January 6, 1979
  • First victory of an F-16 in air combat occurred in the Bekaa where Israeli forces on April 28, 1981, managed to beat a Syrian E-8
  • June 1981 eight F-16s intervene in Operation Opera, their incursion succeeds in damaging the Iraqi nuclear reactor Osirak
  • The month of June 1982 passed and another F-16 hit a Syrian Mig 21
  • Participate in Operation Peace for Galilee in 1982
  • They intervened in the war in Afghanistan between 1986 and 1988
  • In Operation Desert Storm in 1991 these planes made 13,340 sorties attacking Iraqi targets
  • Deployed with NATO multinational forces in the Balkan War between 1994 and 1999
  • Participated in the 2003 invasion of Iraq

The F-16 has been the most prolific hunter globally, with over 2000 in service in the USA and some 2500 in operation in 25 other countries.

Written by: RosaCastellanos

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