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Normal Features                                          Extended Features

Forebody Strakes
The strakes increase lift and directional control at higher angles of attack.

Fixed, Underneath Inlet
A uniquely shaped fixed inlet, with no moving parts, provides smooth airflow to the engine at extreme angles of attack.

M61 Gun
This reliable U.S. standard 20mm gun fires 6,000 rounds per minute.

Maneuvering Leading-Edge Flaps
Automatic flap control provides optimum maneuvering in all conditions.

Air Refueling Receptacle
This receptacle allows refueling using boom-type tankers.

Jet Fuel Starter
A jet fuel starter provides self-start capability and assisted in-flight restart.

Single Vertical Tail
The F-16’s vertical tail helps provide good directional stability at high angles of attack.

Blended Wing Body
The aircraft’s unique cross section is aerodynamically and volumetrically efficient.

8,000-Hour Service Life
The airframe is designed for 8,000 hours of operation (more than 26 years of service at 25 flight hours/month) without a depot-level inspection or overhaul.

Fly-by-Wire Flight Control System
The F-16’s fly-by-wire system has electronic flight control system with angle of attack and g limiting. This allows the pilot to aggressively maneuver the aircraft without worry of overstress or departure from controlled flight.

Stores Carriage Capability
The current Block 50 F-16 can carry up to 22,000 pounds of weapons, electronic countermeasures, sensor pods, and external fuel tanks on 11 store stations. With full internal fuel, it carries more than 15,500 pounds of external stores at its maximum takeoff gross weight. The Block 60 version will have an even larger load capacity.

Extended Descriptions of Features

Air Defense/Interceptor | Avionics | Battlefield Air Support | Cockpit | Countermeasures | Defense Suppression | Engines | Fas Forward Air Controller | Maritime Interdiction | Night Attack | Noncombat Roles | Precision Strike/Interdiction | Radar | Reconnaissance | Safety | Support


Air Defense/Interceptor

The F-16 is the recognized champion of close-in aerial combat and is becoming highly respected for its potent beyond-visual-range capability. It is operational with both the AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) radar missiles, and uses various methods to identify targets and link target data with other F-16s or with ground- or air-based control stations.


The brains of the F-16’s core avionics system is the modular mission computer, the most cutting-edge computer in an operational fighter today. This advanced processor combines the functions of three computers.

The F-16 has an advanced navigation system consisting of three primary components:

  • Ring laser gyro inertial navigation system provides basic position and attitude information with rapid ground and in-flight alignment capabilities
  • Global positioning system, a satellite-based system provides precision navigation worldwide
  • Navigational digital terrain system provides precision navigation, manual terrain following, ground/obstacle collision avoidance, computed slant ranging, and threat avoidance
In addition, the F-16 carries standard TACAN (tactical air navigation) and ILS (instrument landing) systems, transponder for aircraft identification, and a combined altitude radar altimeter. Standard communication equipment consists of a UHF radio, a VHF AM/FM radio, and a data modem. The modem provides data-link capability. Data-link applications include furnishing timely target and threat data from external agencies or sharing own-ship and target data among flight members.

Battlefield Air Support

The F-16 carries a variety of weapons to effectively locate and attack tactical targets – from wide-area soft targets to mobile armored vehicles close to friendly forces. Its small size, agility, countermeasure equipment, and standoff weapons allow it to survive dense threat environments. High sortie rates, high cruise speed, and long loiter time ensure the F-16’s quick response to varying vital needs.


Originally, the F-16 cockpit was designed for single-pilot operations in the dynamic visual combat environment. It has evolved into a truly versatile cockpit to perform the more complex night and in-weather operations, and accommodate the most advanced sensors and weapons.

With the F-16’s cockpit controls and displays, the pilot can perform normal functions without lowering or turning his head or removing his hands from the throttle and side-stick controller.

The F-16’s large single-piece bubble canopy with no forward bow frame provides the pilot with the best visibility of any fighter in the world. The 30-degree inclined seat, raised heel rests, and positive pressure breathing system provide the pilot with elevated g tolerance. The reclined seat is comfortable, even on 16-hour transoceanic ferry flights.


The F-16 is fully equipped to deal with a wide range of threats. Radar warning systems analyze incoming signals and identify the type of threat, activity, and direction. F-16 pilots use the aircraft’s low signature to avoid being detected until it is too late for enemy aircraft to effectively engage in battle. However, once attacked, the F-16 pilot employs chaff, towed decoys, and electronic jamming, along with agile maneuvering, to degrade tracking and avoid being hit. Flares are used to decoy infrared homing missiles.

The F-16 has a selection of alternative countermeasure suites to fit the particular user. Some air forces use electronic countermeasure pods while others prefer an internal countermeasure set. Some have additional chaff/flare dispensers. Others have integrated suites that provide automatic jamming and chaff dispensing.

Defense Suppression

The F-16 employs high-speed antiradiation missiles (HARM) and cluster bombs to neutralize or destroy air defense sites. A HARM targeting system pod provides autonomous, reactive antiradar capability. The F-16’s small radar signature, speed, and agility make it a difficult target for air defense sites to counter.

The F-16 features the world’s finest fighter engines. The 24,000-pound-class F100-PW-220 powers the F-16A. The F-16C offers a choice of two 29,000-pound-class engines: the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 or the General Electric F110-GE-129. The forward engine air inlet is sized to optimize the performance of the selected engine. All three engines have electronic engine controls and other advanced technologies that produce

  • High thrust-to-weight ratio
  • High cruise efficiency
  • Unrestricted operation by the pilot
  • Quick response to throttle changes
  • Ease of air starts
  • High durability (4,000 throttle actuation cycles)
  • High reliability
  • Low maintenance requirements
  • Ease of maintenance, including self-diagnostics and fault reporting
  • Full thrust retention over time
These attributes translate into high performance, pilot confidence and in-commission rates, low operating and support costs, and excellent safety. Future engine plans include improvements to thrust, reliability, maintainability, and signature. Potential exists for adding a thrust-vectoring nozzle integrated with the flight control system.

Fast Forward Air Controller

Day or night, the F-16 has the precision navigation, sensors, endurance, agility, and survivability to locate and mark targets for other aircraft, targets located near our allies or deep behind enemy lines. Data links are used to rapidly and clearly designate ground targets.

Maritime Interdiction

The F-16 employs a variety of weapons to attack ships from standoff ranges, such as Penguin, Harpoon, and Maverick-G missiles. Forward-looking infrared pods or sea modes in the fire control radar accomplish detection and tracking.

Night Attack

Using a forward-looking infrared navigation pod plus night-vision goggles, the F-16 pilot can navigate and attack targets at night, employing tactics similar to those used in daylight.

Noncombat Roles

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and other air demonstration teams selected the F-16 because of its outstanding performance and precision handling qualities. It has been used as an advanced adversary aircraft by both the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy to emulate the latest fighter threats. It is employed as a test support aircraft to train U.S. Air Force test pilots and to fly chase on aircraft undergoing flight tests.

It also serves as a primary test bed for generic systems, such as Global Positioning System, LANTIRN, AMRAAM, and airborne self-protection jammer. In addition, the F-16XL, AFTI/F-16, and NF-16 VISTA versions of the F-16 are used as test beds for advanced technologies and integration.

Precision Strike/Interdiction

The F-16 has the range, navigation systems, and weapons to reach, locate, and destroy high-value targets. Precision standoff weapons include electro-optical/infrared glide bombs and laser-guided bombs. The F-16 uses systems to track and designate targets for itself or for other aircraft. It is the first fighter to receive a new family of "smart" weapons being developed by the Department of Defense. These weapons will have precision, all-weather capability from standoff ranges. They include the Joint Direct Attack Munition, Joint Standoff Weapon, and the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile.

The F-16 is equipped with either the APG-66 (F-16A) or APG-68 (F-16C) Westinghouse multimode radar. Frequently updated, both radars exhibit the latest in radar technology, including a very high-speed integrated circuit signal processor. These radars provide long-range detection and tracking and high-resolution mapping.

Future growth may include auto terrain following, advanced aerial target identification, combined and interleaving of modes, and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) capability. SAR provides very high-resolution mapping and target recognition capability compatible with all-weather precision weapons currently in development.


The F-16 is equipped with either the APG-66 (F-16A) or APG-68 (F-16C) Westinghouse multimode radar. Frequently updated, both radars exhibit the latest in radar technology, including a very high-speed integrated circuit signal processor. These radars provide long-range detection and tracking and high-resolution mapping.

Future growth may include auto terrain following, advanced aerial target identification, combined and interleaving of modes, and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) capability. SAR provides very high-resolution mapping and target recognition capability compatible with all-weather precision weapons currently in development.


An assortment of sensor pods provides the F-16 with a reconnaissance capability that does not detract from the aircraft’s inherent capacity for air-to-air or air-to-ground combat. Future enhancements include recording imagery on magnetic tape, reviewing and editing the imagery in-flight, and data-linking imagery to selected agencies in near-real time.


The F-16 continues to be the safest single-engine fighter and safest multirole fighter in U.S. Air Force history.

Cockpit and avionics safety features include situation awareness aids, such as a head-up display, up-front controls, hands-on controls, integrated display formats, bubble canopy, and ground proximity warning system. Multiple communications systems, multiple and precision navigation systems, and an integrated caution/warning system also improve the F-16’s safety. A reclined seat and positive-pressure breathing system increases the F-16 pilot’s g tolerance.

In the engine, safety attributes include a proximate splitter, a jet fuel starter for air starts, and backup engine control. The gun muzzle and nosewheel are located aft of the engine inlet to minimize the potential for foreign object damage. Safety in the aircraft systems includes extensive built-in self-test and fault reporting, antiskid brakes, emergency arresting hook, and optional drag chute.

The F-16’s highly redundant systems, such as flight control, electrical power, hydraulic power and fuel transfer, also improve the aircraft’s safety. With its airframe’s rugged structure, the F-16 is able to fly home after extensive in-flight damage. The F-16 is equipped with a crash-survivable flight data recorder.

Performance features, including the aircraft’s short takeoff distance requirement, automatic stall/departure prevention, and low landing speed, all improve the F-16’s safety record


The F-16’s extensive logistic support network includes first-class product support from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company and the U.S. Air Force, multiple production lines and suppliers, multiple depots, and on-base support for more than 3,000 aircraft at over 80 bases in 22 countries. This exceptional network provides even the smallest air force with worldwide deployability and interoperability in allied operations.

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