Who here does not know about the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the supersonic multirole jet fighter developed originally by the General Dynamic which is the pain backbone of the US Air Force? Since the first time the aircraft was introduced in 1976, nearly 4600 of these aircraft have been developed and are still in production. Although the US is only using the older ones with sufficient upgrades made to them, the newer ones are being sold to other world militaries.
The aircraft is not only in active duty service of US Air Force, but it is also the part of the aerial demonstration team of USAF known as Thunderbirds. For our readers today, we have brought to you some of the lesser-known facts about the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
F-16’s first air-to-air kill was made by the Israeli Air Force
The very first successful air-to-air skill carried out through an F-16 Fighting Falcon was made on 28th April 1981 and the ones to achieve that feat was the Israeli Air Force. During the mission of Osriqa Raid and the Bekaa Valley, the F-16 Fighting Falcon of the Israeli Air Force was able to successfully take down an attacking Mi-8 helicopter of Syrian forces through the cannon fire.
After one year of this first kill, the Israeli Air Force claimed the first-ever kill by the F-16 Fighting Falcon for a jet fighter.
Service with the Thunderbirds continue with upgrades
The famed aerial demonstration team of the United States Air force is known by the name Thunderbirds and they have been making use of this aircraft in their demonstration since 1981. Due to the combating F-16 Fighting Falcons receiving upgrades on the radar and computer systems each year, Thunderbirds also await for the very same upgrades for their F-16 variants like F-16C and F-16D.
The flight hours of the Thunderbirds’ employed F-16 Fighting Falcons are nearly twice as much as the combat versions of the F-16 Fighting Falcons. So in order for them to be in tip-top shape, they need to undergo continuous maintenance.
World’s most famous fighter jet
The F-16 Fighting Falcon is literally the most renowned aircraft or better yet a fighter jet in the world. This aircraft has been exported to nearly 28 of the world militaries other than USAF. Nearly 2691 F-16 Fighting Falcons have been exported to other militaries while nearly 3600 of them have been created so far. Right after the Sikorsky UH-60 helicopter for military, F-16 Fighting Falcon is the second most widely used military aircraft in the world.
Once it was to replace the A-10 Warthog
Back in the late 1980s, the USAF proposed the idea of changing the F-16 Fighting Falcon to a close air support combat aircraft for their objective of replacing the aging A-10 Warthog.
The name of the new F-16 was proposed to be A-16 and it was given a wide range of upgrades which primarily involved the upgrades in its avionics and armaments. Still, these upgrades were not tough or reliable enough so that the F-16 Fighting Falcon could replace the sturdy A-10 Warthog. In the end, the F-16 Fighting Falcon was left as it was; a lightweight fighter jet.
Flew for 13,340 missions during the Operation Desert Storm
The very first combat action that the F-16 Fighting Falcon saw with its main operator, the USAF was in 1991 during the Gulf War. the aircraft was made part of the Operation Desert Storm and for that purpose, nearly 249 of these F-16 Fighting Falcons were flown for a total of 13340 missions to engage the enemy targets.
Although the missions of the aircraft varied, they were mainly for engaging with ground targets of the Iraqi rebels and fighting their Iraqi jet fighters in the skies. Despite the F-16 Fighting Falcon going through a series of difficult mission which were mostly for the daytime raids against the enemy targets protected deep within, only 3 of these numerous F-16 Fighting Falcons were ever confirmed to be lost against the enemy forces during eh entire operation. This record set by F-16 Fighting Falcon during the Operation Desert Storm never came close of getting broken by any other aircraft.
Almost named as the F-16 Viper
The design of the aircraft gives it a feel of a snake and the first official name for the F-16 Fighting Falcon was proposed to be the F-16 Viper. Those who worked closely with the F-16 Fighting Falcon still refer to the aircraft as the F-16 Viper. The title of Falcon was only given to the aircraft due to its concept originating from the previous generation F-15 Eagle. And to further explain this official name of F-16 Fighting Falcon, the one man on the board of naming this aircraft Lt. Col. Pat “Gums” McAdoo, who has since retired from USAF, says,
“In any case, the Generals didn’t want a plane ‘named after some snake’!”
Still, the unofficial name of being the Viper still stood with the F-16 when it was time for naming he award that was to be given to the pilot of F-16 with outstanding airmanship. The award of the F-16 in that category was named as “Semper Viper’ award.
Being kept due to delays in the F-35 Program:-
The Lockheed Martin is still trying to make the project of the fifth-generation multirole stealth fighter jet better known as the F-3 Lightning II perfect, delays are happening. They are trying their best to make the F-35 to be the viable replacement for the F-16 soon but in the meantime, IUS Air Force has to maintain its fleet of aircraft updated and in the capable form. For this very purpose of keeping the F-16 Falcon in optimal fighting position, numerous programs have been started and one of them is known as SLEP (Service Life Extension Program) which is being employed for a fleet of nearly 40 to m52 F-16 Fighting Flacons. According to the Lockheed Martin, the SELP program is going to make these F-16s capable of being in operational capability for many decades into the future.