In 1953, the Air Force’s official air demonstration team, designated the 3600th Air Demonstration Unit, was activated at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
The unit adopted the name ‘Thunderbirds,’ influenced in part by Native American culture. The Thunderbirds have been flying the F-16 since August 1982.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon is the first of the US Air Force multi-role fighter aircraft. There are more than 2,000 in service with the USAF and 2,500 operational with 25 other countries.
The F-16 and the F-15 Eagle were the world’s first aircraft able to withstand higher g-forces than the pilots. The Fighting Falcon entered service in 1979.
F-16’s are produced by Lockheed-Martin and are also flown by the Air Force Reserve Command, Air National Guard, and the military air components of 25 other allied countries.
It’s been involved in multiple conflicts abroad, including Operations Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Northern Watch, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and Odyssey Dawn.
F-16 General Characteristics:
Primary Function: Multi-role fighter
Wingspan: 32 feet, 8 inches
Length: 49 feet, 5 inches
Height: 16 feet
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 37,500 pounds
Speed: Mach 2 (~1,500mph)
Range: More than 2,002 miles with internal fuel
Ceiling: Above 50,000 feet