Cockpit of the General Dynamics (Fokker) F-16A Fighting Falcon (J-215) as used by the "Koninklijke Luchtmacht" (RNLAF)
at the Military Aviation Museum, Kamp Zeist (the Netherlands)
The General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force (USAF). Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4500 aircraft have been built since production was approved in 1976. Although no longer being purchased by the United States Air Force, improved versions are still being built for export customers. In 1993, General Dynamics sold its aircraft manufacturing business to the Lockheed Corporation, which in turn became part of Lockheed Martin after a 1995 merger with Martin Marietta. The Fighting Falcon has key features including a frameless bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while manoeuvring, a seat reclined 30 degrees to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot, and the first use of a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire flight control system helps to make it a nimble aircraft.
The F-16 has an internal M61 Vulcan cannon and 11 locations for mounting weapons and other mission equipment. The F-16's official name is "Fighting Falcon", but "Viper" is commonly used by its pilots, due to a perceived resemblance to a viper snake as well as the Battlestar Galactica Colonial Viper starfighter. In addition to active duty United States Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, and Air National Guard units,
the aircraft is also used by the USAF aerial demonstration team, the United States Air Force "Thunderbirds", and as an adversary/aggressor
aircraft by the United States Navy. The F-16 has also been procured to serve in the air forces of 25 other nations.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) made substantial orders for the F-16, and built aircraft at the Fokker plant.
Deliveries started in 1979 and ended in 1992. A total of 102 aircraft were initially ordered, but these were followed by substantial follow-on orders for a total of 111 additional aircraft. 52 of these were F-16A/B-15OCU aircraft. These orders brought total Dutch F-16A/B deliveries to 213.
108 of them received the Mid-Life-Update (MLU). A Serbian MiG-29 was shot down by a Dutch F-16AM during the Kosovo War in 1999.