F-16 "Fighting Falcon"

The F-16 was designed to be a highly maneuverable, single-seat fighter plane that could perform many different roles including air to air combat and bombing missions.  It was also designed to be "affordable" to manufacture and maintain.  For this reason, F-16's were sold to many NATO and other United States allied nations.

There was a new technology being used by the European aircraft designers in their new supersonic passenger aircraft (the Concord) called "fly by wire" and the F-16 developers decided to use it in this new fighter.  This technology changed the way the flaps, rudders and elevators were controlled by using electrical signals and hydraulics to move those control surfaces instead of the old-fashioned cables.  Almost all military and passenger aircraft built after the 1980's used this "fly by wire" technology. 

The first F-16 flew in 1976.  F-16A models were first deployed at Hill Air Force Base, Utah in 1979.  An F-16B model was built as a two-seat trainer.  C and D models were later developed to incorporate newer technology.

A unique partnership to manufacture F-16's was created between four NATO nations: Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands with final assembly of about 350 F-16's being done at the factories in Belgium and the Netherlands.  This program improved standard parts availability for F-16's used by NATO nations and improved combat readiness.

An F-16 (in front) as compared to the larger F-15.
Front view of an F-16.
Edwards Air Force Base's own F-16B is used as a chase plane during the test flights of other aircraft.
Close-up view of the starboard side of an F-16's cockpit.
Underside view of an F-16.
Static display of a two-seat F-16D.
This picture illustrates the versatility of the F-16 to carry a multitude of weapons.

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