The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon in World War III
The General Dynamics F-16 was active in the USAF and in the Air National Guard at the beginning of the Third World War, and saw combat from the very first day in the fighter, attack, and FAC roles Although production was disrupted due to the need to evacuate the General Dynamics production line from its factory in Fort Worth, Texas to the Rockwell International (formerly NAA) plant in Columbus, Ohio, the F-16 was still fully supported, due to covert supplies of parts from the two European factories participating in coproduction: the Fokker plant at Schiopol-East in the Netherlands, and the SABCA plant near Brussels, as well as components manufactured in Norway and Denmark, along with a production line set up at Turkish Aerospace Industries in 1988. Due to the aircraft's war record, export sales helped GD as it recovered from the war, and the aircraft is still in production today.
The following variants served in World War III and in various conflicts that sprang up in the aftermath of the war:
F-16A: Initial production version: Blocks 1, 5,10, 15, and 20. All surviving USAF early blocks given mid-life upgrades before replacement by later models. Aircraft in storage being offered for refurbishment and upgrade for export sale.
F-16B: Two-seat version of A. Same Block numbers. Fully combat-capable, with some Bs used in the “Fast FAC” role.
F-16C: Entered production in 1984. Block 25 initially, followed by 30/32, 40/42, and 50/52. Improved cockpit avionics and radar enabling BVR missile (AIM-7 and AIM-120) capability. LANTIRN added with Block 40, HARM targeting pod added to Block 50. Blocks ending with “0” fitted with GE F110 engines, those ending with “2” fittend with Pratt and Whitney F100 engines.
F-16D: Two-seat version of C. Often used as “poor man's F-15E” when fitted with LANTIRN pod
F-16E: “Super Falcon” offered to USAF as substitute for F-24. Not adopted by USAF, but taken up by Israel.
F-16F: Two-seat version of E.
F-16G: Competitor in Wild Weasel VI Program, along with variant of Tornado ECR and F-15G. F-15G won the competition.
F-16H: “Stealth Falcon” proposal from GD, as hedge against possible F-24 cancellation.
RF-16C: Reconnaissance version with camera pod on centerline station; direct replacement for RF-4C. Block 40/42.
USAF (includes ANG); AFRES became an operator postwar
ROKAF: One squadron from ROKAF transitioned from F-5 to F-16 as part of ROK Expeditionary Force in the U.S; additional ROKAF squadrons transitioned postwar
Egyptian AF: EAF F-16s guarded against possible Libyan and Soviet attack during the war years. Flew missions in support of Libyan Rebels during fall of Qaddafi regime.
Israeli AF: IDF F-16s flew missions during “armed neutrality period.”
Netherlands AF: F-16s oparated by the Royal Neterlands Air Force fully participated in the campaign to reunify Germany in 1989, flying missions against Soviet forces in East Germany and Czechoslovakia.
Belgian AF: Belgian aircraft fought alongside thier Neterlands counterparts in the 1989 campaign.
Orders from several export customers were requisitioned during the war by the U.S. Government. This included orders from Egypt, Israel, Indonesia, Pakistan, Singapore, Greece, and Bahrain. All but the Indonesian order were reinstated postwar. Taiwan operates the F-16 as an F-104 replacement, and frequently uses the aircraft in strikes against warlords on the Mainland. Thailand and Malaysia are frequently using the F-16 to strike pirate strongholds in Indonesia. One potential F-16 operator is Vietnam, as the VPAF's MiG-21s are aging, and spares are running low.