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The F-16 Fighting Falcon has been both revolutionary and evolutionary. It was revolutionary in that this fighter introduced many innovations to air combat aircraft for the first time, and the dramatic capability increase over the previous generation of fighters has allowed the aircraft to remain a top performer today after several decades of operation. It is evolutionary because it has constantly evolved to incorporate the latest technologies, expanding its roles and redefining the meaning of multirole fighter.

Because of the excellent aerodynamic and structural design of the original F-16, the external lines remain unchanged. The F-16ís growth potential, however, has been fully utilized. The aircraft has undergone six major block changes incorporating four generations of core avionics, five engine versions, five radar versions, five electronic warfare suites and two generations of most other subsystems.

The growth in avionics processing capability has been exponential: the latest F-16ís core computer suite has over 2,000 times the memory and over 260 times the throughput of the original production F-16. These improvements have been accompanied by dramatic improvements in reliability and maintainability.

It is no surprise the F-16 is the backbone of the U.S. Air Force and the air forces of many other nations; it is expected to continue in this role for many years. For example, the F-16 will constitute 56 percent of the U.S. Air Forceís fighter force through 2010, about the time the Joint Strike Fighter begins production.

Plans are for the F-16 to be in service beyond 2020 for the U.S. Air Force and beyond 2030 for other users. The F-16 constitutes a significant portion of NATOís fighter force, with over 800 aircraft purchased by European members and over 100 U.S. Air Force F-16s permanently stationed or deployed at any time at bases in Europe.

 

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