The F-16 Is So Fierce And Affordable It's Flown By 25 Foreign Countries [PHOTOS]

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.

A MARK 84 2,000 pound bomb made a big boom, like this one loaded during Operation Desert Storm.

The fighter weighs 19,700 pounds (without fuel) and has a wingspan of 32 feet, 8 inches.

Power comes from a Pratt & Whitney or General Electric engine capable of 27,000 pounds of thrust.

The jet can reach a maximum speed of Mach 2, or 1,500 miles per hour.

The bird is incredibly versatile, with the capability of pulling stable 9-G maneuvers.

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)

This fighter just filled up its tank and got back in the action patrolling the skies over Iraq.

Pilots can operate and engage targets both day and night thanks to high tech night vision goggles.

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.

They are also defending Israel, which is one of over 25 nations that have F-16s in their inventory.

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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