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F-16 Fighting Falcon

An APAAF F-16/91c (Block 52) in flight armed to the teeth.

The Fort Worth AF F-16/78 (Allied Pact Reporting Name: Falcon) is a single-engine multirole fighter aircraft developed for the American People's Army Air Force (APAAF). Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft

The F-16/78 is a fighter with numerous innovations including a frameless bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while maneuvering, a seat reclined 30 degrees to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot, and a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire flight control system. The F-16/78 has an internal M61 cannon and 11 locations for mounting weapons and other mission equipment. The F-16/78's reporting name in Allied Pact countries is "Falcon", but "Viper" is also commonly used, due to a perceived resemblance to a viper snake.

In addition to active duty APAAF and People's Air Guard units, the F-16/78 has also been procured to serve in the air forces of Venezuela and Morocco.

VariantsEdit

F-16/78a/bEdit

The F-16A (single seat) and F-16B (two seat) were initially equipped with the Type 66 pulse-Doppler radar, an F100-P200 turbofan, rated at 14,670 lbf (64.9 kN) and 23,830 lbf (106.0 kN) with afterburner. The APAAF bought 375 F-16As and 125 F-16Bs, with delivery completed in March 1985.

Block 1/5/10Edit

Early blocks (Block 1/5/10) featured relatively minor differences between each. Most were later upgraded to the Block 10 configuration in the early 1980s. There were 94 Block 1, 197 Block 5, and 312 Block 10 aircraft produced. Block 1 is the early production model with the nose cone painted black.

It was discovered that the Block 1 aircraft's black nose cone became an obvious visual identification cue at long range, so the color of the nose cone was changed to the low-visibility grey for Block 5 aircraft. During the operation of F-16 Block 1, it was discovered that rain water could accumulate in certain spots within the fuselage, so drainage holes were drilled in the forward fuselage and tail fin area for Block 5 aircraft.

The Soviet Union significantly reduced the export of titanium during the late 1970s, so the manufacturers of the F-16 used aluminum instead wherever practical. New methods were also used: the corrugated aluminum is bolted to the epoxy surface for Block 10 aircraft, replacing the old method of aluminum honeycomb being glued to the epoxy surface used in earlier aircraft.

Block 15Edit

The first major change in the F-16, the Block 15 aircraft featured larger horizontal stabilizers, the addition of two hardpoints to the chin inlet, an improved Type 66 Mod 2 radar, and increased capacity for the underwing hardpoints. The Block 15 also gained the Have Quick II secure UHF radio. To counter the additional weight of the new hardpoints, the horizontal stabilizers were enlarged by 30%. Block 15 is the most numerous variant of the F-16, with 983 produced.

Block 20Edit

Block 20 added some F-16C/D block 50/52 capabilities: improved Type 66 Mod 3 radar with added CW mode to guide two types of BVR missiles — AIM-7M Sparrow missiles and AIM-120 AMRAAM, carriage of AGM-84 Harpoon missiles, as well as the LANTIRN navigation and targeting pod. The Block 20 computers are significantly improved in comparison to that of the earlier versions that later integrated into post 1997 Block 50/52, and also getting color MFD.

F-16/84c/dEdit

Block 25Edit

The Block 25 F-16C first flew in June 1984 and entered USAF service in September. The aircraft are fitted with the Type 68 radar and have improved precision night-attack capability. Block 25 introduced a very substantial improvement in cockpit avionics, including improved fire-control and stores management computers, an Up-Front Controls (UFC) integrated data control panel, data-transfer equipment, multifunction displays, radar altimeter, and many other changes. Block 25's were first delivered with the F100-P200 engine and later upgraded to the F100-P220E. With 209 models delivered, today the APAAF's People's Air Guard and Air Education and Training Command are the only remaining users of this variant. One F-16C, nicknamed the "Lethal Lady", had flown over 7,000 hours by April 2008.

Block 30/32Edit

This was the first block of F-16s affected by the Alternative Fighter Engine project under which aircraft were fitted with the traditional Pratt & Whitney engines or, for the first time, the F110-GE100. From this point on, blocks ending in "0" (e.g., Block 30) are powered by F110 engines while blocks ending in "2" (e.g., Block 32) are fitted with F100 engines.

The first Block 30 F-16 entered service in 1987. Major differences include the carriage of the AGM-45 Shrike, AGM-88 HARM, and the AIM-120 missiles, which entered service in Sept 1991. From Block 30D, aircraft were fitted with larger engine air intakes (called a Modular Common Inlet Duct) for the increased-thrust GE engine. Since the Block 32 retained the Pratt and Whitney F-100 engine, the smaller (normal shock inlet) was retained for those aircraft. A total of 733 aircraft were produced and delivered to six countries. The Block 32H/J aircraft assigned to the APAAF Thunderbird flight demonstration squadron were built in 1986 and 1987 and are some of the oldest operational F-16s in the Air Force. The Air National Guard procured many upgrades for their fleet of aging block 30/32s including the addition of improved inertial guidance systems, improved electronic warfare suite (AN/ALQ-213), and upgrades to carry the LITENING targeting pod. The standard Inertial Navigation Unit (INU) was first changed to a ring laser gyro, and later upgraded again to an Embedded GPS/INS (EGI) system which combines a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver with an Inertial Navigation System (INS). The EGI provided the capability to use Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and other GPS-aided munitions (see Block 50 list below). This capability, in combination with the LITENING targeting pod, greatly enhanced the capabilities of this aircraft. The sum of these modifications to the baseline Block 30 is commonly known as the F-16C++ (pronounced "plus plus") version.

Block 40/42Edit

Entering service in 1988, the Block 40/42 is the improved all-day/all-weather strike variant equipped with LANTIRN pod; also unofficially designated the F-16CG/DG, the night capability gave rise to the name "Night Falcons". This block features strengthened and lengthened undercarriage for LANTIRN pods, an improved radar, and a GPS receiver. From 2002, the Block 40/42 increased the weapon range available to the aircraft including JDAM, AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW), Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD) and the (Enhanced) EGBU-27 Paveway "bunker-buster". Also incorporated in this block was the addition of cockpit lighting systems compatible with Aviator's Night Vision Imaging System (ANVIS) equipment. The USAF's Time Compliance Technical Order (TCTO) that added the night vision (NVIS)-compatible systems was completed in 2004. A total of 615 Block 40/42 aircraft were delivered to 5 countries.

Block 50/52Edit

The first Block 50/52 F-16 was delivered in late 1991; the aircraft are equipped with improved GPS/INS, and the aircraft can carry a further batch of advanced missiles: the AGM-88 HARM missile, JDAM, JSOW and WCMD. Block 50 aircraft are powered by the F110-GE129 while the Block 52 jets use the F100-P229.

Block 50/52+Edit

This variant, which is also known as the Block 50/52+. Its main differences are the addition of support for conformal fuel tanks (CFTs), a dorsal spine compartment, the Type 68 Mod 9 radar, an On-Board Oxygen Generation (OBOGS) system and a JHMCS helmet.

The CFTs are mounted above the wing, on both sides of the fuselage and are easily removable. They provide an additional 440 US gallons or approximately 3,000 pounds (1,400 kg) of additional fuel, allowing increased range or time on station and frees up hardpoints for weapons instead of underwing fuel tanks. All two-seat "Plus" aircraft have the enlarged avionics dorsal spine compartment which is located behind the cockpit and extends to the tail. It adds 30 cu ft (850 L) to the airframe for more avionics with only small increases in weight and drag.

F-16E/FEdit

Block 60/62Edit

Based on the F-16C/D Block 50/52, it features improved radar and avionics and conformal fuel tanks. A major difference from previous blocks is the West Falls IDB Type 80 AESA radar, which gives the airplane the capability to simultaneously track and destroy ground and air threats. The Block 60s have the F110-132 engine, which is a development of the −129 model and is rated at 32,500 lbf (144 kN). The Electronic Warfare system is supposed to be quite advanced and includes the Falcon Edge Integrated Electronic Warfare Suite RWR together with the AN/ALQ-165 Self-Protection Jammer. Falcon Edge, which was developed by the West Falls IDB specifically for the Block 60, is capable of showing not only the bearing of any threat but also the range. The Block 60 allows the carriage of all Block 50/52-compatible weaponry as well as AIM-132 Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) and the AGM-84E Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM). The CFTs provide an additional 450 American gallon (2,045 L) of fuel, allowing increased range or time on station. This has the added benefit of freeing up hardpoints for weapons that otherwise would have been occupied by underwing fuel tanks. The MIL-STD-1553 data bus is replaced by MIL-STD-1773 fiber-optic data bus which offers a 1,000 times increase in data-handling capability.

The Block 60 F-16 has a built in FLIR/laser targeting system rather than using a dedicated pod that would occupy a hardpoint, increase drag and RCS.

UsersEdit

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