Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
F-16 Fighting Falcon
From the very beginning, the F-16 was intended to be a cost-effective "workhorse," that could perform various kinds of missions and maintain around-the-clock readiness. It is much simpler and lighter than its predecessors, but uses advanced aerodynamics and avionics (including the first use of fly-by-wire, earning it the nickname of "the electric jet") to maintain good performance. This distinguishes the F-16 from its predecessors, many of which were not designed for all-weather operation (F-104) or were extremely expensive / made for aircraft carrier operations (F-14). It was also the first US fighter aircraft to match the English Electric Lightning's capability of pulling 9g turns during flight.
Although the F-16's official popular name is "Fighting Falcon," it is well-known as the "Viper," the General Dynamics codename for the project during its early development.
The F-16 is small and agile, and the pilot sits high in the fuselage with a the canopy support-bow behind him, out of his line of view. This gives the pilot optimal visibility, a feature vital during air-to-air combat. For this purpose, the F-16 has a built-in M61 Vulcan cannon, and can be equipped with air-to-air missiles. However, the F-16 can also perform ground-support tasks if necessary. For that task, it can be equipped with a very wide range missiles or bombs.
The F-16 originates in a set of specifications the United States Department of Defense issued in 1974. Two companies were chosen during the concept stage: General Dynamics with the YF-16 design and Northrop with a design which bore the name YF-17 Cobra. The F-16 was chosen from the two prototypes as it gave superior performances across the board; the US Navy chose to have the YF-17 design developed into the F/A-18 because it offered twin-engined reliability, then viewed as essential for over-water operations.
The YF-16 was the world's first aircraft to be aerodynamically unstable by design. With its rearward center of gravity, its natural tendency during flight is to pitch up, rather than down, as most conventional aircraft do. Level flight is created by the elevator pushing the tail up rather than down, and therefore pushing the entire aircraft up. With the elevator working with the wing rather than against it, wing area, weight, and drag are reduced. The aeroplane is constantly on the verge of flipping up or down totally out of control. This tendency is constantly caught and corrected by the fly-by-wire control system, so quickly that neither the pilot nor an outside observer could know anything was happening.
Initially, the F-16 was manufactured in two models: A (single-seat combat version) and B (combat-capable two-seat trainer). The first time an F-16A took off was in December 1976; the first aircraft was delivered to the US Air Force in January 1979. In the 1980s, the F-16A/B was superseded by the F-16C/D with improved avionics and engine.
Due to their ubiquity, the F-16s have participated in numerous conflicts, most of them in the Middle East. In 1981, 4 Israeli F-16s participated in a raid that destroyed Osiraq, an Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad. The following year, during the invasion into Lebanon, Israeli F-16s engaged on numerous occasions with Syrian aircraft, ending up victorious at all times but one. F-16s were also used afterwards in their ground-attack role for strikes against targets in Lebanon. In the Gulf War of 1991, F-16 from the air forces of the Coalition participated in the strikes against Iraq.
The F-35 "Joint Strike Fighter" is the F-16's intended replacement.
- Blocks 1/5/10
Early blocks with relatively minor differences between each.
- Block 15
The first major change in the F-16, the Block 15 aircraft featured larger horizontal stabilisers, the addition of two hardpoints to the chin inlet, improved AN/APG-66 radar, increased capacity of underwing hardpoints. The last Block 15 was delivered in 1996.
- Block 15 OCU
From 1987 Block 15 aircraft were delivered to the Operational Capability Upgrade (OCU) standard, which featured improved F100-PW-220 turbofans, the AGM-65 missile, AMRAAM capability, countermeasures and cockpit upgrades.
- Block 20
150 Block 15 OCU's for Taiwan.
- Other designations
- F-16/79 - Modified export-version F-16A designed for use with the J79 turbojet engine, canceled.
- F-16/101 - Modified F-16A designed for use with the F101 turbofan engine, canceled
- F-16ADF - upgraded F-16A/B that was handed out to the United States Air National Guard
- F-16I - a version with improved avionics, manufactured for Israel
- F-2A/B(FS-X) - modified version, produced in Japan by Mitsubishi
- F-16XL - a delta-wing version used by NASA for aeronautical research, once conceived of as a possible competitor for the F-15.
- RF-16C/F-16R - reconnaissance version that carries the ATARS package.
- F-16 MLU - (Mid Life Update) An update of the F-16 A/B for the Royal Netherlands Airforce, the Belgian Air Force, the Royal Danish Air Force and the Royal Norwegian Air Force.
- Block 25
The Block 25 F-16C first flew in June 1984 and entered USAF service in September. The aircraft are fitted with the AN/APG-86 radar, have a precision night attack capability and are fitted with the F100 -PW-220E turbofan.
- Block 30/32
The first aircraft subject to the Alternative Fighter Engine project under which aircraft could be fitted with the traditional Pratt & Whitney engines or for the first time the General Electric F110 . Blocks ending in 0 are powered by GE, blocks ending in 2 are fitted with Pratt&Whitney engines.
The first Block 30 F-16 entered service in 1987. Major difference include the carriage of the AGM-88 HARM and Maverick missiles. From Block 30D aircraft were fitted with enlarged inlets for the increased thrust GE engine, Block 32s were not modified in this way.
- Block 40/42 (F-16 CG/DG)
Entering service in 1988, the Block 40/42 is the improved all-day/all-weather strike variant with LANTIRN pod, the night capability gives rise to the name "Night Falcons". The block features strengthened undercarriage, improved radar. From 2002 the Block 40/42 increases the weapon range available to the aircraft including JDAM, JSOW, WCMD and the (Enhanced) EGBU-27.
- Block 50/52 (F-16 CJ/DJ)
Block 50/52 was first delivered in late 1991, the aircraft are equipped with improved GPS/INS. An advanced Supression of Enemy Air Defences "Wild Weasel" capability is provided by the HARM Targetting System (HTS), these aircraft designated 50D/52D. All aircraft feature helmet-mounted-cueing allowing off-boresight air-to-air missile firing. The aircraft can carry a further batch of advanced missiles; the Harpoon missile, JDAM, JSOW and WCMD. Block 50 aircraft are powered by the F110 -GE-129 while the Block 52 jets use the F100-PW-229.
- Block 50/52 Plus
These aircraft are fitted with the latest avionics and provisions for Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFTs). All two-seat "Plus" airframes include the enlarged Avionics Dorsal Spine which adds 30 cubic feet (850 L) to the airframe for more avionics with only small increases in weight and drag.
- F-16 CCIP
The Common Configuration Implementation Program seeks to standardise all Block 40/42/50/52 F-16s to 50/52 configuration for simplified training and maintenance.
- Block 60
Based on the F-16C/D, it features conformal fuel tanks and improved radar and avionics; it has only been sold to the United Arab Emirates. The General Electric F110-132 is a development of the -129 model and is rated at 32,500 lbf (144 kN). A major difference from previous Blocks is the Northrop Grumman APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. Block 60 allows the carriage of all Block 50/52 aircraft-compatible weaponary as well as ASRAAM and the AGM-84E Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM). The CFTs provide an additonal 450 US gallons (2,045 litres) of fuel allowing increased range or time on station. This has the added benefit of freeing up hardpoints for weapons, i.e. hardpoints that would have been occupied by underwing fuel tanks.
Main article: Operators of the F-16 Fighting Falcon
Total delivered or on order as of 2004:
- United States Air Force : 2505 (some sold to other countries)
- Other air forces: 2401
- Royal Bahrain Air Force: 22
- Belgian Air Force: 160
- Chilean Air Force: 10
- Royal Denmark Air Force: 78
- Egyptian Air Force: 220
- Hellenic (Greece) Air Force: 140
- Royal Jordanian Air Force: 24
- Indonesia Air Force: 12
- Israel Defense Force/Air Force: 382
- Italian Air Force: 24
- Royal Netherlands Air Force: 223
- Royal Norwegian Air Force: 75
- Oman Air Force: 12
- Pakistan Air Force: 115
- Poland Air Force: 45
- Portuguese Air Force: 45
- Republic of Singapore Air Force: 71
- Republic of China (Taiwan) Air Force: 150
- South Korean Air Force: 180
- Royal Thailand Air Force: 61
- Turkish Air Force: 248
- United Arab Emirates Air Force: 80
- Venezuelan Air Force: 24
- Total number manufactured: 4,426
- Unit cost:
- F-16A/B: USD 9.5 million
- F-16C/D: USD 12.8 million
- late models, around 1998: 1998USD 25 million
Recent discussion with the Indian ministry of defence indicates that the F-16 could be bought by the Indian Air Force. The United states government has also expressed interest in the co production of F-16's in India.This development will tremendously increase the significance of the F-16 's in the south asian power equation .
- General Dynamics / Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company (USA)
- Turkish Aerospace Industries (Turkey)
- Fokker (Netherlands)
- SABCA (Belgium)
- Kongsberg Vaapenfabrikk and others (Norway)
- Crew: 1 (A/C), 2 (B/D)
- Length: 47 ft 8 in (14.52 m)
- Wingspan: 31 ft (9.45 m)
- Height: 16 ft 8 in (5.09 m)
- Wing area: 300 ft² (27.87 m²)
- Empty: 18,238 lb (8,272 kg)
- Loaded: 26,463 lb (12,003 kg)
- Maximum takeoff: 42,300 lb (19,187 kg)
- F-16A/B: Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-200 turbofan, 14,670 lbf (64.9 kN), afterburning 23,830 lbf (106.0 kN)
- Block 25/32/42: Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 turbofan, 14,590 lbf (64.9 kN), afterburning 23,770 lbf (105.7 kN)
- Block 30/40: General Electric F110-GE-100 turbofan, 17,155 lbf (76.3 kN), afterburning 28,984 lbf (128.9 kN)
- Block 50: General Electric F110-GE-129 turbofan, 17,155 lbf (76.3 kN), afterburning 28,984 lbf (128.9 kN)
- Block 52: Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 turbofan, 17,000 lbf (75.6 kN), afterburning 28,500 lbf (127 kN)
- F-16E/F: General Electric F110-GE-132 turbofan, 19,000 lbf (84.5 kN), afterburning 32,500 lbf (144.6 kN)
- Maximum speed: 1,350 mph (2,173 km/h)
- Range: 340 miles (547 km)
- Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,240 m)
- Rate of climb: 50,000 ft/min 15,240 m/min
- Wing loading: lb/ft² (kg/m²)
- F-16.net Extensive and up-to-date F-16 Fighting Falcon resource.
- List of military aircraft of the United States
- List of fighter aircraft
- Comparison of 2000s fighter aircraft
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