The F-16 Fighting Falcon, also called the Viper, is a multi-role fighter and is the primary fighter aircraft in the US Air Force inventory today. The Falcon is capable of performing a variety of missions including air-to-air, air-to-ground, tactical reconnaissance, surface-to-air missile suppression, and close air support. This is a fourth-generation fighter and was the first to incorporate fly-by-wire technology This means that the side stick controller in the cockpit transmits input to the control surfaces by electronic signals This aircraft is capable of up to 9 g’s and the pilot’s seat is inclined at 30 degrees to assist the pilot in coping with the high g loads.
The aircraft can carry a wide range of weapons to include conventional bombs, missiles, and tactical nuclear weapons. 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 most current 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 home base. Its all-weather capability allows it to accurately deliver ordnance during non-visual bombing conditions. The cockpit and its bubble canopy give the pilot unobstructed forward and upward vision, and greatly improved vision to the side and rear. Meanwhile, avionics systems include a highly accurate inertial navigation system with a computer providing steering information to the pilot while the latest GPS systems allow position and bombing accuracy within a few feet. It also has a radar warning system and modular countermeasure pods to be used against airborne or surface electronic threats. The F-16 was built under a consortium between the United States and four NATO countries: Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway. Today, more than 4,500 of these aircraft are in use by 25 air forces around the world. Our Aviation Challenge aircraft is an F-16B, Bureau Number 780101. It was primarily used in pilot training and aircraft testing. In the F-16B model the training pilot sat in the front and the instructor sat in the back. This aircraft was assigned to many different Air Force units to include 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Hill AFB, UT; the 57th Fighter Weapons Wing, Nellis AFB, NV; 310th and 311th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron, Luke AFB, AZ; 39th Flying Training Squadron, Randolph AFB, TX; 40th Flight Test Squadron, Eglin AFB, FL. Our F-16B is marked with a red tail honoring the Tuskegee Airmen, the African American fighter pilots of WW II who provided exceptional fighter protection to bombers in the European Theater. This aircraft was retired from service in 1999 when it was brought to Aviation Challenge (AC) for public display. Separately, there is an F-100 turbojet engine on display at AC. It is one of the standard engines used in the F-16. The F-16 will eventually be replaced by the F-35A Lightning II aircraft which is just coming into operational use.