It is hard to believe that the F-16, officially named the Fighting Falcon, more popularly known as the Viper, turned 40 this year. When the F-16 was first introduced, it was a revelation, with many new features combined into a single aircraft, like a sidestick controller, seat inclined to 30 degrees to offset g forces, negative stability, and fly-by-wire controls running through a quadruplex flight computer. Originally the F-16 was meant solely as a day fighter for air to air combat, its originators, sometimes known as the “Fighter Mafia,” determined to keep weight down, performance high, and quantities up by dispensing with everything they thought unnecessary, which they called “gold-plating.” Gold-plating included things like a fire control radar, ground-attack capability, electronic countermeasures, or radar-guided missiles. When the production aircraft emerged, however, cooler heads had prevailed, and it had the AN/APG-66 radar and ground-attack capability, although it could only initially fire Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles. The F-16 has gone on to four decades of success (and counting) as a multirole fighter that has been the backbone of the U.S. Air Force. It has also been procured in several different variants by more than 25 air arms. Updated and upgraded, it remains in production today. This is a look at some, but not all, of the type’s international operators.
International F-16 Fighting Falcons | Photos
Worldwide F-16 operators
A Royal Netherlands air force F-16A formates with a KC-135 Stratotanker during Red Flag-Alaska 11-1. The Netherlands was one of the original European co-producers of the F-16, license-building more than 200. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Miguel Lara III A Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 425th Fighter Squadron takes off during Red Flag-Alaska 14-1 May 12, 2014, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The RSAF operates 74 F-16C and F-16D aircraft. U.S. photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft A Danish F-16 flies chase during F-35 testing over Edwards Air Force Base. One of the four original European operators of the F-16, Denmark is also part of the F-35 program. Lockheed Martin photo by Matthew Short An Egyptian F-16 Fighting Falcon in flight. Egypt operates more than 200 F-16Cs and Ds. Lockheed Martin photo An Israeli Air Force F-16C of 115 Squadron "Flying Dragon," Ouvda Airbase, Israel, Nov. 19, 2013. Israel operates well over 300 F-16s, in several different variants. Israeli Air Force photo A two-ship flight of Israeli Air Force F-16Is "Sufas" near Acre, Israel, May 10, 2011. The F-16I features a large percentage of Israeli electronics and other systems. Israeli Air Force photo Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons fly over Jordan during a refueling mission, Oct. 17, 2011. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Asha Kin Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons conduct a low pass during Exercise Cold Response 2014. The RNAF still operates 57 F-16s in two different variants. Norwegian Armed Forces photo An F-16C from the Turkish Air Force touches down at Aviano Air Base, Italy, on March 23, 2001. The aircraft was flying in support of Operation Joint Guardian over the Balkans. Turkey has license-built more than 250 F-16s. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jeremy Smith A Belgian F-16 fighter pilot maneuvers into position behind a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft Aug. 18, 2011, before refueling. The Belgian Air Component operates more than 50 F-16AM and BM aircraft. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen A Hellenic Air Force F-16 departs on a combat mission during the Blue Flag exercise on Uvda Air Force Base, Israel Nov. 25, 2013. More than 150 F-16s form the bulk of the Greek fighter force. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Lee Osberry The Sultanate of Oman accepted the first of its second order of F-16 Fighting Falcons in a ceremony on April 3, 2014, at Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth facility. In 2002, the Sultanate of Oman became the 23rd member of the F-16 family and now joins the 15 other countries that have ordered additional F-16s jets for their air defense. Lockheed Martin photo by Elizabeth L. Kaszynski. Three F-16s from the Royal Moroccan air force link up with a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 191st Air Refueling Squadron based out of Salt Lake City, Utah to refuel during the 2014 Aeroexpo Marrakech Trade Show in Morocco, April 21, 2014. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Nicolas A. Cloward A Portuguese F-16C shown during an airshow. Of 45 originally procured, around 30 are still in service. Photo by Gerard van der Schaaf A brand new Pakistani Air Force F-16D Fighting Falcon executes a roll for the camera. When all orders are delivered and older aircraft updated, Pakistan will be operating more than 100 F-16s. U.S. Air Force photo A Royal Thai Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducts tactical flight operations during Cope Tiger 13 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, March 12, 2013. Thailand operates three squadrons of F-16s in various variants. U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Joshua Gunderson A Chilean F-16 flies on the wingtip of a U.S. KC-135 Stratotanker after refueling. The Fuerza Aérea de Chile or FACh hosted the United States, Brazil, Argentina, and France during Exercise Salitre II, a multinational exercise focused on interoperability. Chile currently has 46 F-16s in inventory. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky A Polish Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon taxis the runway before take-off June 4, 2012, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Poland operates 48 F-16C and F-16D aircraft. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Miguel Lara III An F-16 for the Republic of Korea Air Force flies for the first time in 1994. About 170 F-16s fly for the ROK air force. Lockheed Martin photo United Arab Emirates Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons fly in formation over Southwest Asia Dec. 9, 2009, during a multinational exercise. The UAE's F-16E and F "Desert Falcons" are perhaps the most capable F-16 variants flying. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller The inaugural F-16 for Iraq during its first flight. Lockheed Martin photo