F-16A Fighting Falcon
Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Also Known As: F-16A Block 15, F-16A Block 20 and F-16A Netz
Origin: United States of America
Parent System: F-16 Fighting Falcon
Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Family Members: F-16 Block 70
, F-16B Fighting Falcon
, F-16C Block 32
, F-16C Block 40
, F-16C Block 42
, F-16C Block 50
, F-16C Block 52
, F-16C Fighting Falcon
, F-16D Block 32
, F-16D Block 40
, F-16D Block 42
, F-16D Block 50
, F-16D Block 52
, F-16D Fighting Falcon
, F-16E Desert Falcon
, F-16F Desert Falcon
, F-16I Soufa
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Description: The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a lightweight, compact fighter aircraft designed for air superiority performing a wide range of military missions ranging from air defense to air-to-ground strike missions. More than 4,000 F-16s have been or will be produced for more than 24 nations worldwide. The first F-16A achieved initial operational capability in 1979. As of 2004, more than 11 million flight hours have been logged by F16s from 20 air forces worldwide. The United States Air Force remains the world's largest operator for the type with more than 1,200 units in service of all models. USAF's Block 50/52 cumulative mishap rate was 2.3 losses/mishaps per 100,000 flight hours in FY2004. The aircraft is scheduled for replacement by the far more capable F-35A Joint Strike Fighter beginning in 2015 through 2025.
In air-to-air engagements the F-16 is highly maneuverable and in the air-to-surface role the aircraft has demonstrated the capability to accommodate any guided and unguided weapon such as laser guided bombs and a variety of air-to-surface missiles. It carries internally a 20mm M61A1 gun for close-in air-to-air engagements. Besides, the F-16A/B is able to carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile while the F-16C/D can be armed with the medium-range AIM-120 AMRAAM missile. To deliver precision guided munitions the Falcon can accommodate the LANTIRN targeting/navigation pod system, as well as the LITENING and the most recent Sniper XR. The targeting and navigation pods have provided day and night, all-weather strike capability to the F-16 aircraft fleet all along its service life.
The F-16C/D multi-role fighter can fly deep inside enemy territory, deliver precision guided munitions in non-visual conditions and defend itself against enemy aircraft even in day and night, adverse weather. This performance was demonstrated for the first time during the Gulf War in 1991. F-16C/Ds played a vital role during air campaigns over the former Yugoslavia (1999), Afghanistan (2001), and Iraq (2003).
The single seat F-16A Fighting Falcon was introduced in 1979 by the US Air Force replacing ageing F-4 Phantom II fighter aircraft demonstrating good performance but also some shortfalls in air-to-air engagements. The most commented shortfall of the F-16A was its inability for engagements beyond visual range compared to their soviet counterparts the MiG-23 Flogger and the MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter aircraft.
Beginning Summer 2004, US Air Force and five European Participating Air Forces (EPAFs) - Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal - operating the F-16 aircraft received the a new software packages called M3+ by the US Air Force and the corresponding EPAF version designated M3. The most notable new capabilities added to F-16s thru the M3/M3+ software packages were Link 16 data link and the helmet mounted cueing system (HMCS). USAF F-16 capabilities under M3+ encompassed AGM-158 long-range attack missile and Sniper XR targeting pod, while European F-16s gained the capability to deliver JDAM bombs.
More than 200 USAF Block 50 F-16C/Ds modified thru the Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP) were scheduled to receive the M3+ software package at the Ogden Air Logistics Center, Utah. Approximately 400 USAF Block 40 F-16C/Ds were scheduled to follow the same upgrade beginning in 2006. By the way, about 350 European F-16A/Bs will receive hardware and M3 software upgrades at depot facilities in each participating country. In addition to the M3/M3+ update initiated in March 2000, the F-16 software updates roadmap the M4/M4+ to be released in 2007 and the M5/M5+ to be released in 2009.
Falcon STAR, F-16 Structure Augmentation Roadmap, program will see US Air Force F-16 fleet receiving parts kits to strengthen their structure. This measure will enable the F-16 aircraft to attain its projected 8,000-hours of service life through 2025 for the US Air Force, when the entire fleet should be dismantled. Falcon STAR program is valued at $1 billion. The parts kits involved in this program number 79,000. Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is where modification work is taking place. Starting in 2006, F-16s for European countries will undergo Falcon STAR modification. All in all, more than 2,000 F-16s belonging to the United States, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Israel, Greece, Singapore, Thailand and Bahrain will be modified through 2014.
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