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F-16 Fighting Falcon

F-16 Fighting Falcon

F-16 flying over Tucson

The F-16 Fighting Falcon is used in military applications around the world. In Arizona, its capabilities are tested at the Yuma Proving Grounds and the Barry M. Goldwater Complex by the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force. The Air National Guard trains the 162nd Fighter Wing ion the F-16 at the Tucson International Airport. Its pilots commonly refer to it as the “Viper.”

The F-16 is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. It is highly maneuverable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. It provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations. In an air combat role, the F-16's maneuverability and combat radius (distance it can fly to enter air combat, stay, fight and return) exceed that of all potential threat fighter aircraft. It can locate targets in all weather conditions and detect low flying aircraft in radar ground clutter. In an air-to-surface role, the F-16 can fly more than 500 miles (860 kilometers), deliver its weapons with superior accuracy, defend itself against enemy aircraft, and return to its starting point. An all-weather capability allows it to accurately deliver ordnance during non-visual bombing conditions.

In designing the F-16, advanced aerospace science and proven reliable systems from other aircraft such as the F-15 and F-111 were selected. These were combined to simplify the airplane and reduce its size, purchase price, maintenance costs and weight. The light weight of the fuselage is achieved without reducing its strength. With a full load of internal fuel, the F-16 can withstand up to nine G's—nine times the force of gravity—which exceeds the capability of other current fighter aircraft.

The cockpit and its bubble canopy give the pilot unobstructed forward and upward vision, and greatly improved vision over the side and to the rear. The seat-back angle was expanded from the usual 13 degrees to 30 degrees, increasing pilot comfort and gravity force tolerance. The pilot has excellent flight control of the F-16 through its "fly-by-wire" system. Electrical wires relay commands, replacing the usual cables and linkage controls. For easy and accurate control of the aircraft during high G-force combat maneuvers, a side stick controller is used instead of the conventional center-mounted stick. Hand pressure on the side stick controller sends electrical signals to actuators of flight control surfaces such as ailerons and rudder.

Avionics systems include a highly accurate enhanced global positioning and inertial navigation systems, or EGI, in which computers provide steering information to the pilot. The plane has Ultra High Frequency (UHF) and Very High Frequency (VHF) radios plus an instrument landing system. It also has a warning system and modular countermeasure pods to be used against airborne or surface electronic threats. It is currently manufactured by Lockheed Martin, pioneers of radar systems.

Spotlight: Lockheed Martin

The F-16 Falcon is used by numerous branches of the U.S. Military, including the Air Force, Marines, and the Air National Guard.

Lockheed Martin makes the F-16 and the F-35, the next generation of defensive aircraft. This company is also a leader in radar and tactical systems. Radar was an invaluable defensive tool in World War II. Learn more about Lockheed Martin's role in the development of new radar technologies in Goodyear on the Aviation Technologies page.


Radar for the F-16

Northrop Grumman has developed the Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) for the F-16

Northrop Grumman is another prominent developer of tactical aircraft, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV/UAS). Their technology can be broadly applied for defense and civilian purposes, as in the case of an Active Electronically Scanned Array designed for the F-16. Northrop Grumman is designing the F-35 Lightning II aircraft.