The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a modern US-built, multi-role jet fighter aircraft. It is in use by dozens of countries all over the world.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Versions
3 Inventory
4 Manufacturers
5 Specifications


From the very beginning, F-16 was intended to be neither a technical break-through, nor an enormously powerful weapons platform, but rather a cost-effective "workhorse", that could perform various kinds of missions and maintain around-the-clock readiness. 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).

F-16C Fighting Falcon

From the point of view of design, the F-16 is closer to a fighter than to a ground attack aircraft. It is small and agile, and its canopy is designed for the pilot's optimal visibility, a feature vital during air-to-air combat. For this purpose, the F-16 carries an 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 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 XF-16 design and Northrop with a design which bore the name XF-17. The F-16 was chosen from the two prototypes; however the two-engined XF-17 was not abandoned and later on became the F/A-18 Hornet.

Initially, the F-16 was manufactured in two models: A (combat version) and B (two seats, used for training). 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 In the 1980s, the F-16A/B was superseded by the F-16C/D with improved avionics and engine.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 ubiquitousness, 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 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 Lebanon. In the Gulf War of 1991, F-16 from the air forces of the Coalition participated in the strikes against Iraq.



The figures are as of 1992.
  • US Air Force Active status: 804
  • US Air National Guard: 634
  • US Reserve: 150
  • Other air forces: 1300
  • Total number manufactured: about 2,900



  • Powerplant:
    • F-16A/B: Pratt and Whitney F100-PW-200 turbofan engine with afterburner, 10,800 Kgf thrust.
    • F-16C/D: Pratt and Whitney F-100-PW-200/220 or General Electric F-110-GE-100 turbofan engine with afterburner, 12,150 Kgf thrust.
  • Size:
    • Length: 14.8 m.
    • Height: 4.8 m.
    • Wingspan: 9.8 m.
  • Speed:
    • Maximum: Mach 2
  • Ceiling: classified, above 15 Km.
  • Takeoff weight: 16,875 Kg
  • Range:
    • Combat (without refueling): 860 Km
    • Ferry: more than 3200 Km
  • Unit cost:
    • F-16A/B: USD 9.5 million
    • F-16C/D: USD 12.8 million
    • late models, around 1998: 1998USD 25 million
  • Armament:
    • 20mm M61 Vulcan cannon
    • For air-to-air combat: AIM-9 Sidewinders and AIM-120 AMRAAM misiles.
    • For ground attack: AGM-65 Maverick, various kinds of bombs ("dumb", laser-guided and cluster), weighting up to 2000 lbs.
    • For anti-ship attack: Kongsberg Penguin Mk 3 (Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16's)

See also: Fighter aircraft, Comparison of 2000s fighter aircraft