Photo: via Wikimedia Commons
First flown in 1976, the F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft.It’s a proven jet both in air-to-air and air-to-ground engagements and has seen wide service in Iraq and Afghanistan in the Global War on Terrorism. In fact, it’s seen service with a total of 25 countries, and still has enough orders to keep it in production for some time.
Since 9/11, the F-16 has flown thousands of sorties in support of Operation Noble Eagle (Homeland defence), Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Air Force tested multiple fighters before ultimately selecting the F-16 in 1978. Here, the YF-16 (foreground) flies alongside the YF-17 in 1972.
The fighter was originally developed by General Dynamics for the U.S. Air Force. Its original design was as an air-superiority day fighter, but it evolved into a successful all-weather multi-role aircraft.
The Falcon can have a variety of weapons: One M-61A1 20mm cannon with 500 rounds, and room underneath for up to 6 air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface munitions, and electronic countermeasure pods.
This F-16XL (Experimental aircraft) can drop plenty of bombs. It's also armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles on the wingtips and AIM-7 Sparrow missiles on the undercarriage.
The XL (top) was an experimental aircraft that was eventually shelved by the U.S. Air Force in favour of the F-15.
Here's one carrying an impressive payload of two AIM-9 Sidewinders, along with four AIM-7 Sparrows on the fuselage and twelve 500-pound bombs.
It was built to operate within an altitude of 30,000 to 40,000 feet, but it has a ceiling above 50,000.
The F-16 can go the distance, with a range of over 2,000 miles (1,740 nautical miles) that can be extended through in-flight refueling like you see here.
More than 2,002 miles ferry range (1,740 nautical miles)
If they get into serious trouble, flares can be released to throw off heat-seeking missiles and stay alive.
F-16s have a homeland defence role, like on 9/11, when they were scrambled from Washington, D.C. to protect the city from further attacks.
The Air Force Thunderbirds perform around the world and their aircraft of choice is the incredible F-16.
The F-16 is an amazing fighter aircraft, and many times they support troops engaged in ground combat, including Special Ops.
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