Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon

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F-16C Fighting Falcon
F-16 Sean Wilson.jpeg
Description (data for F-16C-CF-50)
RoleMulti-role fighter/bomber
Crew1 (A/C/E) 2 (B/D/F/I)
First Flight20 January 1974 (unintentional)
02 February 1974 (Official)
Entered ServiceJanuary 1979
Number built4,639 ordered by May 2014 (click here for details)
ManufacturerLockheed Martin
DesignGeneral Dynamics
Model 401
Length15.03m49ft 4in
Wingspan9.45 m31ft 0 in (w/o missiles)
Height4.80m16ft 8 1/2in
Wing area27.87 m²300 ft²
Empty7,365 kg16,238 lb
Loaded12,003 kg26,463 lb
Maximum take-off weight19,186 kg42,300lb
Capacity13 store stations
EnginesOne General Electric F110-GE-129 turbofan engine
(full military)76.3 kN17,155 lbf
(with afterburning)128.9 kN28,984 lbf
Maximum speed2,177 km/hMach 2.05
Combat range (air-to-ground with 2 Mk.84 class bombs)1,370 km740 nm
Combat range (air-to-ground with 4 Mk.84 class bombs)630 km340 nm
Combat range (air-to-air CAP range 2 hr + 10 min loiter with 2 AIM-7 2 AIM-9370 km200 nm
Service ceiling18,000+ m60,000+ ft
Rate of climb50,000 ft/min254 m/min
ArmamentOne M61 20 mm gun; air-to-air options include AIM-9 Sidewinders and AIM-120 Amraams; air-to-ground options include Mk.80 series LDGP, CRV7 rockets, Maverick, JSOW, Paveway, JASSW, JDAM series, Mk.20 Rockeye, CBU-87, CBU-89 CBUs and the B43, B57 and B61 nuclear weapons.



Advanced Day Fighter/Model 404

General Dynamics Model Air Day Fighter configurations. Top left bears a striking resemblance to the F-35 Lightning II configuration
Early F-16 configuration

Development of the F-16 Fighting Falcon can be traced back to the US Air Force's Advanced Day Fighter requirement. As early as 1965, the US Air Force had begun concept formulation studies of new high-performance fighters. These included the F-X, a heavy interceptor/air-superiority fighter (eventually resulting in the F-15 Eagle) and the lightweight Advanced Day Fighter (ADF) (leading to the F-16). The F-X was to be in the 40,000-pound class and was to be equipped with advanced, sophisticated radars and armed with long-range, radar-guided air-to-air missiles. The Advanced Day Fighter requirement called for a simple design in the 25,000-pound class, and was to have a thrust-to-weight ratio and a wing loading intended to better the performance of the MiG-21 Fishbed – which in SE Asia was outperforming US Air Force F-4E Phantom IIs - by at least 25 percent. The Advanced Day Fighter was to complement the heavier F-X fighter. The appearance of the Mach 2.8 MiG-25 Foxbat in August 1967 frightened Defence Department analysts, and the high-performance 40,000 lbs F-X program became US Air Force 's top priority. As a result, the Advanced Day Fighter was temporarily shelved. Through 1968 General Dynamics worked on a compliant FX bid; simultaneously, they worked in-house, using company resources on a single engine lightweight fighter design. In August 1968 General Dynamics' bid for the FX program was rejected. They carried on working on several concepts, including the Model 400, Model 401 and Model 402, Model 404 and Model 1400. See seperate section for early F-16 design study drawings and a most interesting 1972 presentation by F-16 Chief Designer Harry J. Hillaker [1]


However, the ADF concept was kept alive by ADF supporters. In the late 1960s, the 25,000 pound F-XX design came up, which was to be a dedicated air superiority fighter with a high endurance, minimal electronics, and no long-range missiles. Later studies brought this weight down to 17,000 pounds. The concept met with much opposition within the US Air Force, since some considered it a threat to the existing F-X project. However, the Pentagon decided to continue the project at a low level just in case the F-X program got delayed or encountered serious developmental difficulties. Which it did. In 1969, a Pentagon memorandum suggested that both the US Air Force and the US Navy should adopt the F-XX as a substitute for the F-15 and F-14 respectively, since both these planes were becoming increasingly expensive. Both services vigorously resisted these moves, and both the F-14 and F-15 surged ahead.

Project Tailor-Mate

LWF evolution

In 1969, General Dynamics worked with NASA on Project Tailor-Mate [2], a comprehensive study of stall resistance of various intake types and locations which gave General Dynamics great confidence in the underfuselage air intake. Other studies on blended wing/body design, automatic flaps and slats, and other technical areas all fed into improving the design. Twin and single engine designs were studied, including the canard configured Model 772. Results showed that the single engine design was 20% lighter at the start of combat, had superior sustained turn rate and more rapid acceleration, while extensive reviews of accident rates showed no significant differences between one and two engines. Serious development of the lightweight fighter started in late 1970, just in time for the upcoming US Air Force Light Weight Fighter (LWF) program. Initially in house, General Dynamics worked on the concept of a single engine, single seat fighter, armed with two wingtip Sidewinders and an internal gun. Two basic designs were studied, Model 785 and Model 401F.

Model 785

785 was a very simple and comparatively low risk design with a conventional separate wing and body and single vertical tail and under fuselage engine intake. The twin engines variant was designated Model 786.

Model 401F

401F was a blended wing/body design with twin vertical fins. Both designs used an underfuselage inlet location. The initial twin tailed 401F design showed severe problems with directional stability at moderate to high AOA. It turned out that forebody flow separations and their resulting vortices were interacting with the vertical tails. Where the blunt forebody design had attempted to delay vortex formation, NASA Langley aerodynamicists suggested instead to try sharpening the strake leading edge to increase vortex strength, to dominate and stabilise the flow at high AOA. The 401F configuration went through many iterations. F-0, F-1, F-2, F-3, and F-4 were all basically twin tailed and tested different strakes, wing shapes and minor refinements. 401FS used side mounted inlets; early models were initially D shaped, later revisions using horizontal wedge inlets were actually tunnel tested. This design series (401FS-0,1,2,3) was used more as a control benchmark rather than a serious configuration, as Project Tailormate had established the dominance of the underfuselage inlet location. The breakthrough design must be considered Model 404F-5. This design mated the forebody of the F401F-2 with the afterbody of the single tailed 785 design. The next major step forward towards the YF-16 was 401F-10. 401F-10A added afterbody shelves which mounted the horizontal tail surfaces, as also seen on 401F-5A. The 401F-16 marks the point where the basic F-16 configuration was achieved. To show the vast number of different versions studied, here are some of the different inlet designs considered at different points, and then a table that shows all the different types of strake, wing, tail and inlet combinations wind tunnel tested.

Light Weight Fighter/Air Combat Fighter

So did the Department of Defense and in January 1971 a Request for Proposal for the Light Weight Fighter (LWF) program was issued. It called for a high thrust-to-weight ratio, a gross weight of less than 20,000 pounds, and high manoeuvrability, just like the F-XX. Five manufacturers submitted proposals: Boeing (Model 908, interestingly, very much resembling the definite F-16 general lay-out), Northrop (P-600), General Dynamics (Model 401), Ling-Temco-Vought (V-1100, a derative of the F-8 Crusader/A-7 Corsair II), and Lockheed (CL-1200 Lancer). Since the LWF was still seen as a threat to the F-15, the DoD renamed the program Air Combat Fighter (ACF). In Europe, the ACF programme was being closely watched by Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway, organised in the Multinational Fighter Program Group (MFPG). The YF-16 and Northrop YF-17 had now joined the Mirage F1 and the Saab Viggen as potential replacements for their Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. The winner of the ACF contest in the USA would probably be the favoured candidate, but the MFPG wanted to see if the US Air Force was going to buy the plane for itself before they made a decision. These countries wanted a decision from the US Air Force by December of 1974.

Model 401

Convair Model 401
General Dynamics Model 401-16B

Convair’s LWF proposal was designed and built at Fort Worth under the direction of William C. Dietz and Lyman C. Josephs, with Harry Hillaker as chief designer. The team evaluated a single vertical tail versus a twin tail layout. A single tail was eventually adopted since wind tunnel tests had shown this configuration improved the performance of the wing leading edge root extensions. Still more studies were performed on various wing designs including straight, delta, swept, and variable geometry layouts. A variable geometry wing like that used on the F-111 and F-14 was rejected because of cost and complexity while the delta was also eliminated due to poor maneuverability. A relatively conventional straight wing with leading edge sweep was ultimately selected as the best compromise between maneuverability and low drag. The wing root was also blended into the fuselage to further enhance aerodynamics. Components and detail assemblies were designed for ease of manufacture, using low-cost conventional materials where possible. In order to keep costs down, many of the components were designed to have commonality with existing or projected aircraft. However, new technology was to be used in those situations where it would have the greatest effect in meeting performance goals. Most significant was the introduction of "relaxed" static stability/fly-by-wire (RSS/FBW), which resulted in unprecedented maneuverability. During the early design development, General Dynamics had considered both single and twin vertical tails. Wind tunnel tests had showed that vortices produced by the forebody strake generally improved directional stability, but that certain strake shapes actually reduced stability at high angles of attack when twin tails were used. It was concluded that a twin-tail format would result in significantly greater development risks and that a single vertical tail would give satisfactory results provided that it was sufficiently tall. These studies resulted in the definitive Model 401-16B submitted by General Dynamics as its LWF proposal.


YF-16 72-01567

In April 1972 US Air Force selected General Dynamics Model 401-16B and the P-600 as candidates for its Air Combat Fighter program and signed contracts for two YF-16s and YF-17s respectively, both contracts valued at $38 million . General Dynamics rolled out prototype YF-16 Number One (72-01567), at its Fort Worth facility. On January 20th, 1974, test pilot Phil Oestricher made an unintentional first flight of the first YF-16, more like a short hop, from Edwards AFB. Official first flight of the YF-16 prototype occurred February 2nd, 1974, with – again - test pilot Phil Oestricher at the controls, reaching 400 mph and 30,000 feet. The flyoff between the YF-16 and the YF-17 began as soon as flight testing started. The two YF-16s reached speeds of over Mach 2.0, manoeuvres achieving 9g, and altitudes above 60,000 feet. There was an attempt to get as many pilots as possible to fly both the YF-16 and YF-17. The Lightweight Fighter prototypes never flew against each other, but they did fly against all (then) current US Air Force fighters as well as against MiG-17s and MiG-21s that had been "acquired" by the US Air Force in the Have Doughnut/Constant Peg program.

Navy Air Combat Fighter/Model 1600

Vought V-1601
Vought V-1601

In the meantime, the Department of Defense announced in October of 1974 it was considering production of the winner of the ACF contest to satisfy US Air Force, US Navy, and export requirements. Up to that time, the LWF/ACF program had been largely an academic exercise for the US Air Force. But now, the US Air Force announced plans to buy 650 ACFs, with the possibility that this order could be increased to 1,400 or more. This move was designed to assure the potential NATO customers that the US Air Force would stand firmly behind the new fighter. The requirement explicitly called for a multirole fighter, so production Air Combat Fighter aircraft were to be fitted with a radar to give them a limited BVR capability. Although the multirole requirement eased US Air Force fears that the ACF would sidetrack the F-15 program (since the ACF was to be a multirole instead of a light fighter aircraft), the US Navy was directed by Congress to divert VFAX (initiated to replace the US Navy’s Phantom II, A-4 Skyhawk and A-7 Corsair II) money to a new program known as Navy Air Combat Fighter (NACF), and directed that the US Navy take a close look at the US Air Force's LWF/ACF contenders as possible candidates for the NACF requirement. The US Navy's NACF would be basically a navalized LWF/ACF that had led to the F-16. However, most Navy officers were still solidly committed to the F-14 and wanted nothing to do with either the VFAX or the NACF. Undeterred by the pro-Tomcat faction, in September of 1974 the US Navy pressed forward with the NACF project and formal requirements were issued. Both General Dynamics and Northrop responded with navalized models of their ACF contenders, and teamed up with Ling Temco Vought and McDonnell Douglas respectively. The carrier-capable F-16 was assigned the company designation of Model 1600 by LTV. LTV carried out several different concept studies involving different engines, the baseline Model 1600 with a General Electric F404, the Model 1601 with an improved P&W F100 and Model 1602 with General Electric F101 were all considered. The navalized YF-16 was to have been provided with the capability of carrying and launching AIM-7 Sparrow missiles, which would have required the development of a Sparrow-compatible BVR radar. Neither of these features were part of the original planning for a US Air Force F-16. If both the US Air Force and the US Navy picked the YF-16, General Dynamics would be the prime contractor for the US Air Force and LTV would be prime contractor for the US Navy. However, since both of these contractors were located in the same state, there was probably little likelihood of receiving a contract. Indeed, on May 2nd, 1975, the US Navy announced that it had opted for the Northrop/McDonnell Douglas proposal, and the Northrop YF-17 was developed into the F/A-18 Hornet.

From YF-16 into FSD

On January 13th, 1975, the US Air Force selected the YF-16 as the winner of the ACF contest. The US Air Force placed a contract for fifteen FSD airframes, a number that was later reduced to 8 (6 F-16A/FSD's and 2 F-16B/FSD's). The F-16 FSD differed in several respects to the YF-16 prototype since the ADF design now was be become a multimode fighter. No changes however, were made that would degrade the prototype’s aerodynamics. At the same time, the design team had to adapt the airplane to amplified air-to-ground requirements that foreshadowed the F-16’s transition into a multirole fighter. The overall length grew by thirteen inches. The nose, which accounts for about three of those additional inches, acquired a slight droop to accommodate the AN/APG-66 multimode radar. To respond to the need for larger air-to-ground payloads, the wing and tail surfaces were enlarged to carry the extra weight. The wing area grew from 280 to 300 square feet, which is about as much as it could grow without requiring additional internal bulkheads to lengthen the fuselage. The horizontal tails and ventral fins grew about fifteen percent. The flaperons and speed brakes grew by about ten percent. An additional hardpoint was placed under each wing, giving the aircraft a total of nine. The airframe was structurally strengthened for these new loads as well. Other changes in the FSD aircraft included a lighter weight Stencel SIIIS ejection seat (instead of the Escapac IH-8 used in the YF-16), a simpler single door instead of twin doors on the nose landing gear bay, and a self-contained jet fuel engine starter. The canopy transparency was strengthened to withstand a four-pound, 350-knot bird strike. The radome was hinged to ease access to the radar. The first F-16A/FSD was flown on December 8th, 1976.

F-16 Fighting Falcon production

On June 7, 1975, armed with the assurance of a US Air Force commitment to the type, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway announced that they had agreed to acquire the F-16 as a replacement for the F-104G Starfighter. In 1977, the US Air Force announced plans to buy an additional 783 F-16As and Bs. At this time, the US Air Force specified that the plane was to serve as a fighter-bomber, in contradiction to its initial plans for the LWF as a lightweight day fighter. These events eventually led to production of more than 4,400 F-16s for 24 countries assembled in five countries with follow-on buys by 14 customers. When a new production configuration is established the block number increases. However, not all F-16s within a given block are the same and therefore they fall into a number of sub-blocks, for example sub-block 15Y to sub-block 15AZ. From Block 30/32 onwards, a major block designation ending in 0 signifies a General Electric engine whereas one ending in 2 signifies a Pratt & Whitney engine. A Pivot Table containing F-16 productions details, such as customers, numbers delivered and transferred, model/block numbers, engines and production lines is available. As of May 2011, 4,564 F-16's were built and or order. Considering current prospects, a maximum estimated production run is 4,709 aircraft [3]. The 4,500th F-16 - a RMAF F-16C Block 52 - was delivered April 3rd, 2012.

F-16 in combat

The F-16 saw its combat debut with the Israeli Air Force. On June 7th 1981 (less than a year after its service introduction) the Israeli Air Force launched Operation Opera. A flight of eight F-16s – escorted by F-15 Eagles - destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor under construction using conventional Mk.84 bombs. A month earlier, on April 28th, 1981, Israeli F-16's scored the first air to air kill by shooting down two Syrian Mill Mi-8 Hip helicopters. The F-16 saw extensive service in virtually all major conflicts in the Middle East and the Balkans. The biggest combat action was the Gulf air war, operation Desert Storm, 17 January - 28 February 1991. The US Air Force F-16A/C were employed in the air to ground role primarily for battlefield area interdiction, and was used against Iraqi troops, vehicles and forward installations. 27 December 1992 brought the first US Air Force F-16 air to air combat kill, an Iraqi MiG-25 was destroyed by an AIM-120 AMRAAM of F-16D 90-0788/SW. On 24 March 1999: a Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16AM (J-063) shot down a Serbian MiG-29 using an AIM-120B AMRAAM missile. This became the first air to air kill in Allied Force.

F-16 phase out

By 2015, a large percentage of F-16s will be 30 years old. Avionics and weapons systems can be upgraded easily with the introduction of the Modular Mission Computer avionics and ‘plug and play’ software. Due to intensive combat service, the aircraft structure is reaching its service life earlier than expected. Hence the several structural modification programs. Furthermore, the US Air Force is withdrawing about F-16s in order to save funds for F-35 Lightning II procurement. The final US Air Force Falcon is expected to be retired around 2026. The US Air Force, as well as most European F-16 operators, are planning to replace their F-16 fleets with Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning IIs. After building F-16 fighter jets for more than four decades in Texas, Lockheed Martin announced early 2017 it plans to move the production line to Greenville, South Carolina to make room for F-35 production.

Saved by the F-35?

However, the fate of legacy F-16s is largely dependent on the F-35 program. Recent delays in the F-35 program have required the US Air Force to fund a structural sustainment program for F-16 blocks 25 to 32 so that those aircraft can achieve a service life extension from 8,000 to 10,800 hours. Additionally, the US Air Force plans for fund a service life extension program (SLEP) for 300 F-16 blocks 40 and 50 aircraft so that those aircraft can also be operated to 10,000 hours. [4]. The Block 40/50 SLEP could also include (AESA) radar and avionics upgrades. Norway is replacing the wings of its F-16 fleet, Israel is planning structural upgrades on its F-16 Barak fleet. These upgrades will increase the lifespan of the planes by 10 years until 2023 with the arrival of the new F-35 aircraft in 2018.

Production models


  • Block 1: The first of the operational F-16s were designated Block 1. The first example, F-16A 78-0001, rolled off the Fort Worth production line in 1978. Compared to the prototypes and FSD aircraft, the production aircraft had slightly larger wings and a longer fuselage to permit an increased fuel capacity and to accommodate the AN/APG-66 radar. 94 Block 1 aircraft, recognisable by their black radomes, were produced. All production aircraft were fitted with Goodrich ACESII ejection seats.
  • Block 5: 197 aircraft were completed to this standard. The fitting of a grey radome was the most obvious external difference.
  • Block 10: Most Block 1 and 5 aircraft were upgraded to Block 10 standard under Project Pacer Loft I in 1982 and Project Pacer Loft II in 1983. The addition of a grey radome was the only obvious external difference. A total of 312 Block 10 aircraft were built in subblocks 10A to 10D. Delivered to Israel as F-16A/B Netz.
  • Block 15: The most numerous F-16 variant, with 983 aircraft built over 14 years. The Block 15 upgrade saw the introduction of Stage I of the Multinational Staged Improvement Program (MSIP). Horizontal tail surfaces were increased by 30%, two new hard points (5L and 5R) were added to the chin of the inlet and underwing stores stations were strengthened to permit greater loads to be carried. In addition to this the AN/APG-66 radar was upgraded, the AN/ARC-200 Have Quick secure UHF radio was added and provisions were made to enable the AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missile to be carried. Built in subblocks 15A to 15X. Block 15Y was the first subblock introducing MSIP Stage I improvements. Subblock designations are 15Y to 15Z and 15AA to 15AZ.
  • Block 15 OCU: 214 Block 15 aircraft had the OCU kits fitted, a substantial number of which were sold to export customers. Modifications included radar upgrades, a new data transfer unit, expanded computer memory and new software. A new wide-angle HUD, combined radar-barometric altimeter, AN/APX-101 IFF and a ring laser gyro INS were added. In addition to this the more powerful Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 powerplant was fitted. Further structural strengthening was made and the range of weapons that could be carried was expanded to include the AIM-120 AMRAAM, AGM-65 Maverick and Penguin Mk3 anti-shipping missile. Finally, the aircraft had the AN/ALE-40 chaff/flare dispenser fitted and were now also capable of carrying the AN/ALQ-131 ECM pod. Due to all of these modifications the maximum take-off weight of the aircraft rose to 37,5000lb (17,010kg).
  • Block 20: This was the designation for the 150 F-16A/Bs built to MLU standard for the Republic of China (Taiwan) Air Force (RoCAF). They featured a cockpit similar to that of the Block 50 aircraft with Night Vision Goggle (NVG) capability, wide-angle HUDs and GPS, but were fitted with the downgraded AN/APG-66(V)2 fire control radar, only capable to launch Raytheon AIM-7 Sparrows. All of Taiwan's Block 20 F-16s are powered by the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 turbofan engine. Taiwan chose Raytheon's AN/ALQ-184(V)7 ECM pod in place of Westinghouse's AN/ALQ-131 ECM pod. Some of their F-16s are also equipped with reconnaissance pods, along with Sharpshooter/Pathfinder Targeting/Navigation pods (derivatives of Lockheed Martin's Lantirn night vision system). RoCAF F-16s are equipped with AIM-7M Sparrow, AIM-9M and AIM-9P-4 Sidewinder, AGM-65 Maverick and AIM-120C missiles as well as the AGM-84 Harpoon anti-shipping missile. The latter would not be seen on any other F-16s until Block 50/52.
  • F-16 ADF: Upgraded Block 15 aircraft for the United States Air National Guard. The name Air Defence Fighter (ADF) is indicative of its role as a fighter interceptor. Effectively all ADF aircraft are Block 15 airframes as they all received the Block 15 OCU avionics installation. A key modification was made to the APG-66 radar, which was redesignated as the AN/APG-66(V)1, to provide look down/shoot-down capability, Continuous Wave illumination for AIM-7M Sparrow, and subsequently AIM-120A AMRAAM, BVR missile guidance and improved detection of small, fast-moving targets such as cruise missiles. The Bendix/King AN/ARC-200 radio with Have Quick II Secure Speech Module and the AN/APX-109 Mark XII advanced IFF system were fitted. Relocation of the AN/ARC-200 HF/SSB radio to the leading edge of the fin meant that the flight control accumulators had to be relocated to either side of the tail fin. In order to provide sufficient room for these accumulators long, thin horizontal bulges had to be added to the base of the vertical tail of Alpha-models. These bulges are not present on Bravo-models as they do not have the advanced IFF and Bendix HF radio fitted. Another distinguishing feature of the ADF variant is a set of four blade antenna which form part of the IFF system, nicknamed "bird-slicer", carried just forward of the canopy. A 150,000 candlepower night identification spotlight to aid in the identification of night-time intruders was installed below and in front of the cockpit on the port side of the nose, and the aircraft were equipped to carry 600 (US) gallon (2,271 litre) external drop tanks.


  • Block 25: 244 Block 25 aircraft, also known as MSIP Stage II, were produced. They were originally powered by the F100-PW-200 engine but this was later upgraded to F100-PW-220 specification. The aircraft had the Northrop Grumman (formerly Westinghouse) AN/APG-68(V) radar fitted and were capable of carrying the AGM-65D Maverick and AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. Subblocks were designated 25A to 25F.
  • Block 30/32: Sometimes referred to as MSIP Stage III. The Alternative Fighter Engine (AFE) program saw the introduction of a second powerplant in order to keep prices down. General Electric would supply the F101 DFE engine (later renamed the General Electric F110) for the Block 30 aircraft and Pratt & Whitney would supply the F100-PW-220 engine for the Block 32 aircraft. As the F110 engine produced 5,000lb more thrust, Block 30 aircraft had to have a larger air intake fitted. However this larger intake was not fitted to early Block 30 aircraft, such as the US Navy's (T)F-16Ns. Block 30/32 aircraft were capable of carrying the AGM-45 Shrike and AGM-88A HARM anti-radiation missiles. The Block 30/32B (1st delivered spring 1987) introduced multi-target capability for the AIM-120. The Block 30D was the first to be fitted with the larger 'big mouth' air inlet for the F110 engine. F100 powered aircraft were left with the smaller air inlet. Sub blocks were designated 30/32A to 30/32L.
  • Block 40/42: Also referred to as the F-16CG/DG series (apparently, the called F-16G/H designation was avoided and F-16CG/DG was used instead) and the Night Falcon due to its enhanced night/all-weather capabilities. Equipped with digital FBW system which reacts even faster than the analag system fitted to earlier models. It was specifically designed to be connected to the LANTIRN navigation pod to make auto terrain following possible. But since no-one uses that any longer, the advantage of the system is dated. The LANTIRN AN/AAQ-14 targeting and AN/AAQ-13 navigation pods and associated holographic HUD were added along with the AN/APG-68V(5) radar, GPS and AN/ALE-47 chaff/flare dispenser system. The aircraft were able to carry the GBU-10, GBU-12 and GBU-24 Paveway laser-guided bombs (LGBs) and the GBU-15 glide bomb. Sub blocks were designated 40/42A to 40/42R. CCIP upgraded Block 40 aircraft in US Air Force service are designated F-16CM/F-16DM.
  • Block 50/52: Also referred to as the F-16CJ/DJ series (apparantly the F-16J/K designation was avoided and F-16CJ/DJ used instead). The AN/APG-68V(5) radar was fitted to United States Air Force aircraft, but export Block 50/52 batches utilised the AN/APG-68V(7) and AN/APG-68V(8) versions. Weapons included the new JDAM, the AGM-154 JSOW (Joint Stand-Off Weapon) and, for the first time, the AGM-84 Harpoon anti-shipping missile. Aircraft ordered after 1996 also include certain features from the MLU program, namely the modular mission computer, color multi-function displays and a three-channel video tape recorder. Subblocks were designated 50/52A to 50/52U. CCIP upgraded Block 50 aircraft in US Air Force service are designated F-16CM/F-16DM.
  • Block 50D/52D: Lockheed Martin F-16CJ Wild Weasel variant that operates in the SEAD role. This is facilitated by the HARM Avionics/Launcher Interface Computer (ALIC) which allows the AGM-88 HARM missile to be autonomously employed. Also carried is the AGM-45 Shrike anti-radiation missile, a Lockheed Martin Pave Penny laser ranger pod and the Raytheon (formerly Texas Instruments) Raytheon AN/ASQ-213A AGM-88 HARM Targeting System (HTS).
  • Block 50+/52+: Also known as Advanced Block 50/52, ordered by Greece, Singapore and Poland. Features include provisions for CFTs attached to the upper fuselage (holding 450 gallons of fuel and inner wing stations for air-to-ground payload), certification to carry 600-gallon wing fuel tanks (instead of the standard 370-gallon wing tanks), strengthened landing gear (certified for 52,000 pounds maximum take-off gross weight), the AN/APG-68V(9) radar. This high-resolution synthetic aperture radar allows the pilot to locate and recognize tactical ground targets from considerable distances. In conjunction with inertially aided weapons, such as GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition, the AGM-154 JSOW and CBU-103/104/105 WCMD, the F-16 gains an enhanced capability for all-weather precision strike from standoff distances. All two-seat models of the Advanced Block 50/52 have a distinctive dorsal avionics compartment that allows these aircraft to accommodate all of the systems of the single-seat model as well as some special mission equipment and additional chaff/flare dispensers. The rear cockpit can be configured for either a weapon system operator or an instructor pilot and can be converted with a single switch in the cockpit. Other features include the AN/APX-113 advanced electronic interrogator/transponder IFF system, AN/ALQ-211 jammer (fitted to most export aircraft), HMCS, OBOGS and provisions for CFTs.

F-16E/F Desert Falcon

  • Block 60: Export version for United Arab Emirates Air Force, which ordered 80 a/c. Referred to as the Desert Falcon and F-16U. Upgrades include F110-GE-132 engine (32,500 lbs thrust), the AN/APG-80 multi-mode agile beam radar with Active Electronically-scanned Array (AESA) antenna, integrated Northrop Grumman AN/AAQ-32 IFTS (Internal FLIR and Targeting System) on the nose, Northrop Grumman Falcon Eagle integrated Electronic Counter Measures and Thales secure radio and datalink. Standard 0 aircraft were handed over in September 2004 for training purposes in the USA. The 1st aircraft delivered May 3, 2005 in Standard 1 configuration, close to Block 50/52 configuration. In 2006 Standard 2 became available, with more EW modes, terrain following radar and additional weapon options. The definitive Standard 3, with BAE Systems TERPROM digital terrain avoidance and navigation system was introduced in 2007.
  • Block 61. The designation Block 61 emerged January 2014 in a DoD possible sale notifcation. The DSCA notice also noted that the proposed commercial sale includes an upgrade package for the UAE’s existing F-16 Block 60 fleet, but did not provide any details.
  • Block 70: Marketing designation used for the F-16IN Super Viper, unsuccessfully offered in Indian Multi Role Combat Aircraft competition. Early 2017, Lockheed Martin designated the F-16V as Block 70.

F-16I Soufa

Two-seat strike variant for Israel, based on the F-16D Block 52. 102 ordered, featuring F100-PW-229 engine, AN/APG-68(V)9 radar (with synthetic aperture radar modes), provisions for conformal fuel tanks (giving a 2,100 km combat radius), dorsal spine with comprehensive Elisra SPS-2110 EW suite (as fitted in the F-15I) and Litening II targeting pod. Armament options include the Python-4/-5 AAM and Spice PGM. First aircraft delivered February 19, 2004.


Based on the F-16C/D Block 30 and used by the United States Navy to equip their aggressor squadrons. 22 F-16Ns and 4 two-seat TF-16Ns were delivered.

Technology demonstrators, modifications and studies

Technology demonstrators

F-16 CCV

F-16 CCV

The first YF-16 (#72-1567) was rebuilt in December 1975 to become the USAF Flight Dynamics Laboratory's CCV. CCV aircraft have independent or "decoupled" flight control surfaces, which make it possible to manoeuvre in one plane without movement in another -- for example, turning without having to bank. The CCV YF-16 was fitted with twin vertical canards added underneath the air intake, and flight controls were modified to permit use of wing trailing edge flaperons acting in combination with the all moving stabilator. The fuel system was adapted, so that by transferring fuel from one tank to another, the position of the aircraft centre of gravity could be adjusted. The YF-16/CCV flew for the first time on March 16, 1976. On June 24, 1976, it was seriously damaged in a crash landing. While still more than half a mile out, the engine suffered from a loss of power and in the resulting crash landing the landing gear collapsed. Repairs took over 6 months, and its flight test program was resumed in the spring of 1977. The last flight of the YF-16/CCV was on June 31st, 1977, after 87 sorties and 125 air hours had been logged. A few years later, the F-16/AFTI program would capitalize on the experience gained from this CCV program.



In February 1977 President Jimmy Carter announced a new arms transfer policy whereby American manufacturers could no longer sell combat aircraft that were the equal of those in the US inventory to foreign air forces. Exceptions were made for the four NATO countries that used the F-16, as well as Iran and Israel. General Dynamics and General Electric worked together to produce the F-16/79, a less-capable export version of the F-16 which was powered by a derivative of the J79 single-shaft turbojet engine. No F-16/79s were actually sold.


In February 1979, General Electric was awarded a joint US Air Force/US Navy Derivative Fighter Engine (DFE) program to develop a variant of its F101 turbofan engine, originally designed for the B-1 Lancer bomber, for use on the F-16 (in lieu of the standard F100) and the F-14 Tomcat (in place of the Pratt & Whitney TF30). The first FSD F-16A was fitted with the F101X DFE engine and made its maiden flight on 19 December 1980. Although the F101 performed better than the F100, it was not adopted for use; however, data from testing the F-16/101 assisted in the development of the F110 turbofan, for which the F101 would serve as the core, and the F110 would become an alternate engine for both the F-14 Tomcat and powering approximately one third of all F-16s built.



The Advanced Fighter Technology Integration (AFTI) aircraft. In 1982 the 6th FSD aircraft was modified as AFTI testbed, which included the canards from the YF-16 CCV and a dorsal spine. The dorsal spine would eventually make it to some production model F-16s. First program was the Digital Flight Control System (DFCS) in which a total of 108 flights were executed until July of 1983.



General Dynamics proposed an F-16 with a heavily modified wing shape. Under a project called Supersonic Cruise and Manoeuvring Program (SCAMP) the cranked-arrow delta wing shape was chosen, with the resulting aircraft being designated the F-16XL. In-house designation Model 400.


The F-16XL-1 aircraft was used in NASA's Cranked-Arrow Wing Aerodynamics Project, or CAWAP, which provided aerodynamic data for NASA's High Speed Civil Transport (HSCT) research program. The unique cranked-arrow wing shape provided better low-speed lift and handling characteristics than the modified "double-delta" wing used on the Concorde supersonic transport (SST).


The initial flight test phase of the Dryden Supersonic Laminar Flow Control project (SLFC) examined the performance of an active experimental wing section on the upper surface of the left wing of the single-seat F-16XL-1. The 1991-1992 tests showed that with active laminar flow control, the aircraft achieved laminar flow over a significant portion of the wing during supersonic flight, although it did not obtain laminar flow on the active glove at the design point of Mach 1.6 (1.6 times the speed of sound) at 44,000 ft. The experimental glove with active (perforated titanium) and passive sections was designed by North American Rockwell, now a division of Boeing. NASA then used the two-seat F-16XL-2 to conduct a more comprehensive research effort, consisting of two phases. The first phase used a passive glove on the right wing to obtain baseline configuration data that served in the design of the active glove, which was installed over a portion of the left wing. This effort was far more comprehensive than the initial flight phase, and explored regions of transition and the maximum extent of laminar flow obtained over a wider range of supersonic Mach numbers.


The Multi-Axis Thrust-Vectoring (MATV) program aircraft which was basically the F-16 VISTA/NF-16D airframe with the variable stability computers and centre stick temporarily removed.



Variable-stability In-flight Simulator Test Aircraft (VISTA), later redesignated the NF-16D. An F-16D Block 30 aircraft modified into a thrust vectoring research aircraft.



The F-16 Low-Observable Asymmetric Nozzle (LOAN) demonstrator was an F-16C fitted in late 1996 with a prototype nozzle with significantly reduced radar and infra-red signatures and lowered maintenance requirements. It was tested in November 1996 to evaluate the technology for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.

F-16 DSI

F-16 modified with DSI

F-16 modified with diverterless supersonic inlet, or DSI, developed for the Joint Strike Fighter program. At high aircraft speeds through supersonic, the bump in the inlet works with the forward-swept inlet cowl to redirect unwanted boundary layer airflow away from the inlet, essentially doing the job of heavier, more complex, and more costly diverters used by current fighters. The flight test program consisted of twelve flights flown in nine days in December 1996.


The Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System, or Auto GCAS, is a technology that incorporates onboard digital terrain mapping data, a terrain scan pattern, and "time to avoid impact" algorithms to predict impending ground collisions and, at the last moment, execute avoidance manoeuvres. The result is a system that automatically prevents controlled flight into terrain, the leading cause of all fighter aircraft mishaps. Flown by NASA Dryden in 2009.



In March 2010, the US Air Force awarded Boeing a contract for initial engineering, manufacturing and development work associated with the conversion of retired F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft into Full Scale Aerial Target (FSAT). They will be able to fly either manned or unmanned. It is the eventual successor to the QF-4 Phantom. The first QF-16 was flown (in piloted flight) May 4th, 2012. The first QF-16 drone arrived at Tyndall AFB for developmental testing November 19th, 2012.

Design studies


F-16 CAS testbed

The A-16 began as a late-1980s General Dynamics project to develop a CAS version of the basic F-16 by adding armour and strengthening the wings for a heavier weapons load, including a 30 mm cannon and 7.62 mm Minigun pods. The 6th FSD, later AFTI testbed]] was fitted with a dorsal spine, wing-root mounted LANTIRN-style pods, and helmet cued GEC Avionics Falcon Eye FLIR turrets on the nose, projecting the image on a GEC Avionics Cat's Eyes NVG combiner glass mounted on the helmet. As the turret projects from the upper forward fuselage, its perspective is much like that of the pilot providing a very natural view of the outside world. It was also upgraded with an F-16C block 25 wing and with block 40 F-16C features such as APG-68 radar and a LANTIRN interface. It was used as a CAS testbed in support of the proposed A-16, testing low-level battlefield interdiction techniques such as ATHS, provided by Rockwell Collins. The ATHS is a datalink receiver which places a box symbol on the HUD (or helmet combiner glass) over a target designated by a forward air controller on the ground or in a suitably equipped scout helicopter. This removes any ambiguity in the identification of targets to be attacked. Considered as a successor to the A-10A, the type was to have received the ‘Block 60’ designation; however, the A-16 never went into production and the programm was cancelled early 1992.


A second outcome of that directive was a decision by the US Air Force that, instead of upgrading the A-10A, it would seek to retrofit 400 Block 30/32 F-16s as with new equipment to perform both CAS and battlefield air interdiction missions. The new systems for this F/A-16 Block 30 included a digital terrain-mapping system and GPS integration for improved navigational and weapons delivery accuracy, as well as an Automatic Target Handoff System to allow direct digital target/mission data exchange between the pilot and ground units. This approach, however, was dropped in January 1992 in favour of equipping Block 40/42 F-16C/Ds with AN/AAQ-14 LANTIRN pods.


The US Air Force didn't give up the F/A-16 concept easily and, During Desert Storm, equipped 24 F-16A/B aircraft with GPU-5/A Pave Claw pod on the centerline station. The pod houses a 30mm GAU-13/A four-barrel derivative of the seven-barrel GAU-8/A cannon used by the A-10A, and 353 rounds of ammunition. The aircraft received the new designation F/A-16A, and were the only F-16s ever to be equipped with this weapon, intended for use against a variety of battlefield targets, including armor. The project proved to be a miserable failure, mainly because precision aiming was impossible because the pylon mount proved not as steady as the A-10's rigid mounting and firing the gun shook the aircraft harshly and made it hard to control. As a result, the F/A-16C plan was quietly forgotten.

F-16 SFW

F-16 SFW

The F-16 SFW was supposed to test the advantages and disadvantages of forward swept wings. The concept was studied in the Grumman X-29, finding out that forward swept wings offered less advantages than disadvantages and are much more expensive to manufacture and maintain.



Study for short take-off and landing technology demonstrator for the US Air Force. The US Air Force selected the F-15 STOL/MTD instead.



Proposed conversion of existing F-16 to unmanned combat air vehicle, capable to be used in manned and unmanned mode. It was planned as some interim step until UCAS became the standard.

F-16X Falcon 2000

F-16X Falcon 2000

In 1993 Lockheed Martin proposed development of a new version of the venerable F-16. This F-16X ‘Falcon 2000’ featured a delta-wing plan form like that of the F-22. Together with the fuselage stretch to accommodate the new wing design, the F-16X would have 80% more internal fuel volume. The design also permitted conformal carriage of the AIM-120 AMRAAM.

F-16AT Falcon 21

F-16AT Falcon 21

In 1990 General Dynamics proposed the F-16AT 'Falcon 21' as a low-cost alternative for the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program that would eventually lead to the F-22 Raptor. It was a single-engined fighter based on the F-16XL, but with a trapezoidal wing.

Agile Falcon

Agile Falcon compared to early F-16

The original idea of Agile Falcon was to restore to the F-16C the performance and agility enjoyed by the F-16A, which had been eroded somewhat by the weight growth of added systems and capability. This was to be achieved by fitting a much larger and lighter composite-construction wing.


In order to meet the requirements of the Israeli strike fighter competition the F-16ES (Enhanced Strategic) was proposed. Most notable on this modified Block 30 F-16C extended range aircraft are the conformal fuel tanks along the upper fuselage. Another refinement is the addition of an internal FLIR system. Also, the DSI was tested on the F-16ES testbed (83-1120).

F-16 ACE

Upgrade proposed in 2001 by IAI. The F-16 ACE would introduce glass cockpit, new FCR, digital moving map, new advanced weapons, EW and avionics.

Marketing designations


Korea Aerospace Industries built 132 examples of the F-16C/D Block 52 under license from Lockheed Martin in the 1990s. The F/A-18 Hornet had originally won the Korea Fighter Program (KFP) competition, but disputes over costs and accusations of bribery led the Korean government to withdraw the award and select the F-16 instead. Designated the KF-16 (which is also sometimes mistakenly applied to the earlier batch of F-16 Block 32 bought by South Korea), the first 12 aircraft were delivered to Republic of Korea Air Force in December 1994. Almost 2,500 parts are changed from the original F-16C/D and all KF-16 are capable of launching the AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile. In 2015, Korea ordered a major upgrade programm for its 134 remaining KF-16 Block 52 aircraft, including new Raytheon 7000AH MMC, ASEA radar, new IFF equipment, new Northrop Grumman LN-260 GPS/INS, upgraded RWR, Terma AN/ALQ-213 EW units and HMCS.

F-16IN Super Viper

Unsuccessful proposal for India’s Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) requirements. Proposed with AN/APG-80 AESA radar and retractable inflight refuelling probe.


Proposal for Iraqi Air Force, downgraded Block 50 variant, with AIM-9L/M, AIM-7M/H Sparrow air-to-air missiles instead of the AIM-120 AMRAAM normally fitted to the Block 50. The AN/APX-113 IFF systems lacks the Mode IV option, while the GPS only has Standard Positioning Service (SPS) commercial code only.


1995 "beyond block 60" proposal for the UAE, with a F-22 Raptor like delta-wing, stretched fuselage resulting in internal fuel capacity being increased by 80 per cent. It also eliminated draggy multiple weapon pylons and made room for four semi-recessed AMRAAMs.


Launched early 2012, the F-16V offers AESA radar, new mission computer and other cockpit improvements, making the model roughly equivalent to the F-16 Block 60. The F-16V configuration will be available as an upgrade for most F-16s as well as new production aircraft. The upgrade is aimed mainly at planned South Korean and Taiwanese upgrades, while the US Air Force is interested to upgrade its F-16s with a AESA radar.

Related designs

IAI Lavi

Developed by Israel Aircraft Industries during the 1980s. Cancelled because of the prohibitive development costs.

Mitsubishi F-2

Japanese Air Self Defence Force aircraft built under license by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in collaboration with Lockheed Martin. The F-2 is based heavily on the Block 40 F-16C/D.

KAI T-50 Golden Eagle

he T-50 Golden Eagle is a family of South Korean supersonic advanced trainers and multirole fighters, developed by Korea Aerospace Industries beginning in the late 1990s. The T-50 is South Korea's first indigenous supersonic aircraft and one of the world's few supersonic trainers. The development of the aircraft has been co-funded by Lockheed Martin.

AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-kuo

The AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-kuo, commonly known as the Indigenous Defence Fighter (IDF), is an air superiority jet fighter with multi role capability named after Chiang Ching-kuo, the late President of the Republic of China. The aircraft made its first flight in 1989. The Ching-kuo was developed in cooperation with General Dynamics.

Chengdu J-10

Chinese 4th generation fighter, apparently inspired by the IAI Lavi, F-16 and X-31.


When the F-16 first entered service in 1979 it was expected that it would be replaced by 1999. However, it is now anticipated that the F-16 will not be phased out until 2020. This resulted in various upgrade programs covering capability upgrades as well as structural upgrades.

Capability upgrades

Mid-Life Update

Head-on shot of the F-16AM (MLU updated)

In order to prolong the service career of the F-16A/Bs of Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal, an extensive modernisation program, referred to as the MLU, was developed. The MLU upgrade brings the European F-16 aircraft close to US Air Force Block 50 standard, allowing integration of new weapons such as Paveway, JDAM, and CBU-87. The aircraft were also structurally upgraded to meet an 8,000-hour airframe lifespan in a program called Falcon UP (for unos programmum). Improvements include a new Modular Mission Computer (a derivative of the main computer used in the F-22 Raptor and is capable of receiving new software tapes, see later), new signal data processor for the AN/APG-66 radar, integration of the AIM-120 AMRAAM, AN/APX-113 Advanced Identification Friend-or-Foe system (AIFF), new colour Multi-Function-Displays and HMCS. Danish and Norwegian aircraft received Terma PIDS pylon integrated chaff/flare dispensers. MLU upgraded aircraft are designated F-16AM and F-16BM.

Pacer Loft

Pacer Loft I and Pacer Loft II covered conversion of European block 1 & 5 to block 10 (1982 and 1983).

Pacer Smoke

Rectification for Dutch F-16s, reportedly covering replacement of weapon carriage point due to metal cracking[5].

Pacer Bond

Designation used by the RNethAF for the Have Glass canopy modification.

Pacer Century

Engine life program for the F100-PW-220/-220E and the F100-PW-220/-229.

Pacer Spark

Unspecified upgrade carried out by Fokker Elmo on the Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 fleet.

Pacer Tail

Retrofit of braking chute on the Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 fleet (ECP-1315)

Pacer Wing

Unspecified upgrade carried out by Fokker Elmo on the Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 fleet.

Pacer Mud

Radar signature reduction program, included creation of FMS-3049 RAM with ferromagnetic particles absorb the energy. Included in the Have Glass II upgrade.

Pacer Gem

Infra-red signature reduction; created FMS-2026 top coat paint with fibreglass particles. Included in the Have Glass II upgrade.


Upgrade of 620 Air National Guard and AF Reserve Command Block 25/30/32 aircraft to bring them close to Block 50/52 specification. The Combat Upgrade Plan Integration Details (CUPID) upgrade includes a Situation Awareness Datalink (SADL), GPS navigation, improved video tape recorder, colour camera, NVG compatible lightning and integration of the Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-13 navigation and Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-14 targeting pod.


The Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP) upgrades began in June 1998. This involved upgrading 650 US Air Force Block 40/42/50/52 aircraft to a common specification. CCIP Phase 1 included installation of a new modular mission computer (the Raytheon MMC7000) and colour multi-function-displays on 107 older Block 50/52 aircraft. CCIP Phase 1A was similar, but included a AN/APX-113 'bird slicer' interrogator/transponder, giving autonomous beyond visual range capability and integration of the AN/AAQ-33 Sniper imaging/targeting pod. About 250 Block 50/52 aircraft were upgraded from October 2002 onwards. CCIP Phase 2, delivered from July 2003, added Link 16 multi-function information distribution system (MIDS) datalink, JHMCS and electronic HSI. CCIP Phase 3 upgrades 397 Block 40/42 aircraft to Phase 1, 1A and 2 mods. CCIP modified aircraft are designated F-16CM and F-16DM and - from M4.2 on - can use the same Modular Mission Computer Software tapes. In 2009, all Block 50/52 aircraft and approx. 80% of the Block 40/42 aircraft were loaded with OFP 4.3 software. The remaining Block 40/42 aircraft will be fitted with CCIP and M4.3 by mid 2010. The 500th CCIP modified aircraft, an F-16C-50, was rolled out 26 March 2010. From 2001 to 2006, the Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill Air Force Base modified and delivered 254 Block 50/52 aircraft operated by the US Air Force. The modifications took place in three phases and, as a result, 100 aircraft were modified twice during this time frame. In 2005, Ogden also began modifying the Block 40/42 fleet. All Block 40/42 aircraft received CCIP modifications in one shop visit. While a Block 40/42 aircraft was undergoing the CCIP modification, the Falcon STAR (Structural Augmentation Roadmap) modification was also completed.


Upgrade of 300 US Air Force Block 40, 42, 50 and 52 airframes, as a stopgap measure until the F-35 comes available. The aircraft will undergo a structural service life extension programme (SLEP) and a combat avionics programmed extension suite (CAPES) upgrade. The planned upgrades includes AESA radar, a new Terma AN/ALQ-213 electronic warfare system, an integrated broadcast system (IBS) and a center display unit (CDU). There will also be a new operational flight programme to tie those new systems together with the aircraft's existing avionics. The F-16 was designed with a structural life of 8,000h. The SLEP should increase that to between 10,000h and 12,000h. Early 2014, the upgrade was removed from the president’s fiscal 2015 budget request.

KF-16 Upgrade

In April 2014, BAE Systems received a contract, covering initial development and long lead production of South-Korean KF-16 upgrades for 134 aircraft. Key upgrades to this fleet will include new Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR) AESA radars to replace the existing APG-68(V)5/(V)7 systems, offering 2x-3x range or performance, simultaneous ground and air scans, and near-zero maintenance over the fighter’s lifetime. The upgrade will also include modern avionics and computers, and upgrades of the planes’ cabling and databuses to MIL-STD-1760. Work will be performed at Fort Worth, TX and the first upgraded KF-16 aircraft are scheduled for delivery starting 2019.

Have Glass

Have Glass golden tinted canopy (1st and 4th aircraft)
Have Glass II RAM coated radar bulkhead
Have Glass II metallic RAM exterior paint

Have Glass consists of two efforts to reduce the RCS. Have Glass I adds an indium-tin-oxide layer to the gold tinted cockpit canopy. This is reflective to radar frequencies but actually reduces the plane's visibility to radar. An ordinary canopy would let radar signals straight through where they would strike the many edges and corners inside and bounce back strongly to the source, the reflective layer dissipates these signals instead. Have Glass II includes the Pacer Mud radar signature reduction and the Pacer Gem infrared signature reduction. Pacer Mud applies RAM coating to the forward and side facing areas of the F-16. These materials comprise ferromagnetic particles, embedded in a high-dielectric-constant polymer base. The dielectric material slows down the wave and the ferromagnetic particles absorb the energy. These coatings are also designed in a way that the small reflection from the front face of the absorber is cancelled by a residual reflection from the structure beneath it. For the application of this paint robots will be used, like the CASPER (Computer Aided Spray Paint Expelling Robot) system used for F-22 and the Have Glass II program used for painting 1,700 F-16s with RAM. Robots are essential because they can reach confined areas, as the inlet ducts, and can work without stepping on the aircraft. Pacer Mud processed aircraft can be recognised by their metallic like and shiny paintwork.

Barak 2020

Israeli update of F-16C/D Barak model aircraft, bringing them close to F-16I Soufa standard. Updates include new HUD, colour cockpit displays, digital debriefing and other items supplied by Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit. Approximately 124 Block 30 and 40 aircraft are to be upgraded, which will extends their operational effectiveness until 2020.

System Capabilities Upgrades

Software upgrade programs for Block 30/32 aircraft.


Also known: SCU-1Plus.


US Air Force Block 30 and 32 F-16s used by the 18th and 64th Aggressor Squadrons in the Agressor role are scheduled to be upgraded to the System Capabilities Upgrade-8 (SCU-8) standard, incorporating a HMCS and a new center display unit. Right now, when an aggressor F-16 is replicating an enemy fighter like a Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker, it does not have an onboard system to simulate a weapon like the Vympel R-73 (NATO: AA-11 Archer).

Operational Flight Program updates

Five software upgrades were to be carried out during the course of the MLU, as denoted by software tapes M1-M5. The M-designation is an abbreviation for Modular Mission Computer (MMC) software.


Development of the M1-tape went through four phases of Flight Test Tapes (FFT). FTT-1 tape

  • Radar performance evaluation.

FTT-2 tape

  • Weapon modes Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground testing.
  • Navigation: INS and GPS
  • Basic MMC core functions integration.

FTT-3 tape

  • Datalink.
  • IFF interrogation.
  • Horizontal Situation Display.
  • Data-link integration.
  • Cockpit colour screen implementation.

FTT-4 tape

  • "Clean-up" tape intended to correct any imperfections identified in the earlier phases.
  • Automatic Target Hand-off System (ATHS).
  • Integration of the AGM-88 HARM missile
  • Integration of target designator system.
  • Further implementation of the Digital Terrain System.
  • Integration of Link 16 secure tactical datalink system.
  • GPS-guided weapons capability added.
  • Introduction of JHMCS.
  • Advanced short-range missile replacement for the current Sidewinder introduced.
  • Provisions for advanced air-to-air missiles (e.g. AIM-9X).
  • Advanced Link 16 capabilities.
  • Integration of the Sniper targeting pod.

M4.2 The first common software for US Air Force CCIP upgraded Block 40/50 aircraft was introduced with M4.2 software. The first aircraft (an F-16CM) was tested February 2007. The M4.2 tape included:

M4.3 Current field standard for US Air Force.


M5.1 Initial requirements for the M5.1 tape was worked out late 2004.

  • Improved GPS/INS navigation system (more accurate and jamming proof).
  • Installation of AN/ARC-210 VHF radio (to enable radio-contact with forward air controllers on the ground)
  • Provisions for new stand-off weapons (e.g. AGM-154 JSOW).
  • Enhancements to cockpit displays for multi-ship precision targeting and HARM Targeting System (HTS) R7 targeting.
  • New Link 16 message standards to improve interoperability between different aircraft types.
  • Introduction of Joint Mission Planning System (JMPS).

M5.2 Clean-up tape to correct any bugs discovered during frontline use of the M5.1 tape.


M6.1 Developed in 2008/2009 and introduced in 2011.

  • New Universal Armament Interface (UAI) software to standardize communications between the aircraft and weapons. New weapons no longer requires new aircraft OPF tapes.
  • Introduction of the AIM-120D AMRAAM with its two-way datalink, GBU-39/B SDB and GBU-54/B Laser JDAM.
  • New IFF interrogator with new Mode 5 waveform.
  • Improvements to the Link 16 to improve net-centric capability.

Fleet introduction 2012.

M6.2 Minor release tape, scheduled for Q2/2014. Includes Auto GCAS capability nearly eliminating Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) accidents, a leading cause of F-16 loss of pilot and aircraft accidents.

M6.5 Specific for European the F-16 fleet. The M6.5 modification will have several objectives:

  • Rectification of some earlier weapon integration shortcomings.
  • integration of new weapons (i.e the JASSM, JDAM, EGBU-12, SDB, AIM-120D and AIM-9X.
  • upgrade of the Link 16 protocol.
  • upgrade of the AN/AAQ-14 interface software.
  • AN/ALR-56M updates.
  • GPS updates.
  • integrating advanced racks (BRU-69), pylons, adapters, and the UAI, and ensuring nuclear surety, safety and compatibility

Fleet introduction planned for 2014.


Based on the European M6.5, the M7 is developed for the US Air Force. Lockheed Martin and the US Air Force will split responsibility for software development. Lockheed Martin will produce the common core software tape that will field as M6.5 with the European participating air forces and serve as the baseline for the US Air Force M7+ OFP. The US Air Force will have software development responsibility for the M7+ software/ hardware candidates being incorporated on US Air Force F-16s with M7+ Phase III OFP development schedule to start in FY12. Developmental testing will be accomplished at the 40th Flight Test Squadron and 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Eglin AFB. The M7.1 release is planned for Q4/2015.

Structural upgrades

Block 15 SLEP
Block 25/30/32 Falcon Up/SLIP
Block 40/42 Falcon Up
Block 50/52 Falcon Up

Falcon UP

The Falcon Up Structural Improvement Program program incorporated several major structural modifications into one overall program, affecting all US Air Force F-16s. Falcon Up will allow Block 25/30/32 aircraft to meet a 6,000 hour service life, and allow Block 40/42 aircraft to meet an 8,000 hour service life.


Pleased with the results, the US Air Force extended the Falcon UP effort to provide a Service Life Improvement Program (SLIP) for its Block 25 and 30/32 aircraft to ensure 6,000 flying hours, and a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) for its F-16A/B aircraft to assure their achieving 8,000 hours. Carried out by Fokker Aircraft Services and dubbed Pacer SLIP by the Royal Netherlands Air Force, 180 airframes were upgraded, including the ECP-1910 package. Pacer SLIP was completed in March 1997.

Falcon STAR

The Falcon STructural Augmentation Roadmap (STAR) is a US Air Force program to resolve concerns that many F-16C/D may not achieve the planned 8,000 flying hours life because of higher than predicted fatigue levels. Before Falcon STAR, some aircraft exhibited fatigue damage as early as 3,500 hours. Once modified, the aircraft will meet its designed service life of 8,000 flight hours. The program involves modifying 13 different structural components, including wing fittings, and reworking skin areas. The parts kits involved in this program number 79,000. The first modified aircraft was delivered February 2004 to the United States Air National Guard. More than 1,200 Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command aircraft are expected to be modified. In the Royal Netherlands Air Force, the Falcon STAR program has been dubbed the Pacer AMSTEL-program (After MLU Structural Enhancement of Lifetime). 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.

Pacer SLIP

Royal Netherlands Air Force designation for the Block 15 Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) to provide an additional 5,000 flight hours to certain areas of the airframe. Carried out by Fokker Aircraft Services on 180 airframes, including the ECP-1910 package. Pacer SLIP was executed between 1993 and 1996, before the MLU of Dutch F-16s.


Dutch upgrade program which is a combination of the "Falcon Star" project, deferred work of "Falcon Up" and a significant amount of rewiring. 105 Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s were upgraded. Executed from 2002 to September 2010.

Pacer ICSS

Individual tailored structural repair program for Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s, planned for 2010-2020.


Full-scale durability tests at a Lockheed Martin facility in Fort Worth

From the 2010s, the US Air Force has been monitoring fighters by tail number, keeping track not only of how many hours they have flown, but what kind of hours: An hour spent ferrying across the ocean is very different from an hour of hard-turning air combat manoeuvring. This effort is known as the Aircraft Structural Integrity Program, or ASIP [6]. Besides the severity of missions flown, basing has a lot to do with aircraft longevity. The aim of ASIP, together with the full-scale durability testing, is to predict the structural life of the F-16. Block 25 and 30 F-16s will be phased out of the inventory when they reach about 10,800 equivalent flying hours. They were originally specified for 8,000 hours [7].

Engineering Change Proposals

During F-16 production and development, capability and structural upgrades were identified by ECPs. Known ECPs are listed here.

Customer options

Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar

Currently, there are two AESA upgrade options. Northrop Grumman is offering the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR), taking advantage of its AN/APG-77 (F-22, AN/APG-80 (F-16) and AN/APG-81 (F-35) AESA radar designs [8]. Also competing is Raytheon, with its Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR), drawing on AN/APG-63(V)2 (F-15C) and AN/APG-79 (F/A-18E/F) AESA radar expertise [9]. The US Air Force, South Korea and Taiwan are considered key prospects. In March 2012, the US Air Force release a pre-solicitation notice for new radars for its Block 40/42 and 50/52 F-16s. A draft RfP might be released in June 2012.

Navigation pods

Several naviagtion pods are offered: AN/AAQ-13 Lantirn, AN/AAQ-20 Pathfinder, Dassault Rubis and GEC Atlantic. These pods provide an open night window for accurate visual weapon delivery. The AN/AAQ-13 Lantirn also has fully automatic terrain-following radar.

Targeting pods

Several targeting pods are offered: AN/AAQ-14 Lantirn, AN/AAQ-19 Sharpshooter, ATLIS II, AN/AAQ-28 Litening II and AN/AAQ-33 Sniper. These pods provide stand-off target identification, attack and assessment, forward-looking infra-red or electro-optical auto tracker and laser designation for LGBs. Latest option is the ITT/Elta Thunder radar targeting pod, providing SAR capability without requiring aircraft structural changes or changes to current F-16 radar systems. Planned for US Air Force Air National Guard units.

Reconnaissance pods

F-16 fitted with Goodrich DB-110 pod

Several RF-16 reconnaissance versions have been proposed by General Dynamics. In 1988, the US Air Force decided to replace the ageing RF-4C Phantom fleet with RF-16s, carrying the Lockheed Martin ATARS (Advanced Tactical Air Reconnaissance System) pod. Included would be an electro-optical videotape system that allows images to be transmitted via digital datalink to a ground station, providing ground commanders with reconnaissance capabilities in real-time. The US Air Force portion of ATARS was cancelled, but the US Navy continued the development of an internal, pallet-mounted ATARS that replaces the gun in some US Marine Corps F/A-18D Hornet. Several recce pods were integrated with the F-16. Early production F-16s, such as some Royal Netherlands Air Force, were wired for De Oude Delft Orpheus low-level reconnaissance pods and designated F-16A(R). A number of F-16 users have opted for the Modular Reconnaissance Pod), in case of the Royal Danish Air Force to replace the Red Baron pods. The US Air Force opted for this system to accommodate it's own AN/ASD-11 Theater Airborne Reconnaissance System. In 1994, the RNethAF acquired four Medium Altitude Reconnaissance System, since the Orpheus was unsuitable for medium altitude operations. This was an interim solution pending the acquisition of the RecceLite, a tactical reconnaissance pod derived from the Lantirn targeting pod. Current Lantirn pods can be converted into a RecceLite pod as a field upgrade. The RecceLite pod uses the existing targeting pod station and therefore can be used by aircraft already converted to use the Lantirn pod without any additional integration work. Current production F-16s can optionally be wired to carry an advanced reconnaissance pod, such as the Goodrich DB-110 and the BAE Systems F-9120.

Retractable inflight refuelling probe

Inflight refuelling probe development

While all production F-16s are equipped with receptacles designed for refuelling from tankers equipped with flying booms, CARTS, which is short for Conformal Aerial Refuelling Tank System, allows F-16s to be aerial refuelled from the more prevalent probe-and-drogue systems. The CARTS was developed for to comply with the requirements for India's MRCA competition. Since the F-16IN was not selected, further development of the CARTS seems doubtful.

Missile Warning and Counter Measure Dispenser Systems

Various customer options are available, such as the AN/AAR-60 and AN/AAR-54, which can be fitted in pylons, pods or in the fuselage of fighter aircraft to detect the UV radiation signature of approaching missiles. The Royal Norwegian Air Force has awarded a contract to Cassidian to deliver missile warning sensors for its F-16s. Terma is offering the six sensor AN/AAR-54 package fitted in a PIDS+ pylon installation. Missile warning systems are integrated with chaff/flare dispensers such as the AN/ALE-40, AN/ALE-47 and Terma AN/ALQ-213.

Radar Warning and Electronic Warfare

The F-16 offers a wide selection of threat warning receivers (AN/ALR-69, AN/ALR-56M, Carapace, SPS-3000), electronic countermeasures equipment pods (AN/ALQ-131 and AN/ALQ-184), internal systems (AN/ALQ-165 ASPJ, AN/ALQ-178, EWS 16/Carapace, ASPIS), AN/ALQ-211 and towed decoy pylons (AN/ALE-50).




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External links



  1. ^ Design, Concept and Rationale for YF-16, Harry J. Hillaker, 1972
  2. ^ Theoretical and Experimental Engine-Inlet Flow Fields for Fighter Forebodies
  3. ^ F-16 production details, A. van Leerdam, May 2011
  4. ^ Staffers of the members of the Subcommittee of the Armed Forces of the U.S. House of Representatives, March 14, 2011
  5. ^ Hete Hangijzers, B. Kreemers, p.326 (In Dutch)
  6. ^ USAF F-16 ASIP Data Collection ASIP 2007
  7. ^ Extending USAF F-16 force structure
  8. ^ Northrop Grumman
  9. ^ Raytheon
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