The F-16 Falcon
The Falcon has been in the US Air Force inventory since the mid 70's. It is an air to air short range intercept fighter - meant with the primary purpose and intent to down enemy aircraft. It serves in rapid scramble settings for instances of air incursion - most notably over the skies of D.C. - this is the bird that would respond to a hostile air threat in that zip-code. Later versions have been used in a ground attack mode against armored vehicles and radar equipment.
Wing: The forward edge of the wing is a raked shortened Delta mounted mid fuselage - there are no carnards (forward small winglets) - there is a tapered edged integrated from the cockpit running midline and flarring out to the wing. The supporting fuselage connection is smooth to the airframe in an innovative for the time 'Blended' wing and there are no hard angles across the wingspan. The trailing edge of the wing is a hard 90 degrees, with each wing sporting tip mounted rail launchers.
Engine: It is a single jet with large ducted intake opening, giving it the look of a guppy or a whale shark; this intake is one of the most instantly recognizable features to the plane. Out the back - it is again a single port affair - with one big exhaust duct. Capable of afterburner for take off and manuevering - it sucks a lot of fuel in that mode. The Falcon is capable to be refueled in the air - or it can gain longer 'legs' by external drop fuel tanks as well. A General Dynamics single turbofan engine, essentially the same engine as one of the two that powered the F-15, is midline down the center of the plane. The Falcon pushes 27,000 pounds(12,150 kilograms) of thrust making it easily operate in speeds of Mach 2 and altitudes of 50,000 feet when needed.
Fuselage: The cockpit is most commonly a single seat pilot placement setting, though trainers and special Ground Attack versions are a twin person cabin. The full pilotage cabin is forward of the wing - this setting is unique for its time as it off-set the natural balance of what was traditional for aircraft styling and construction at the time. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is one of the first fully fly-by-wire platforms in the US inventory. This means - that the plane cannot fly without the aid of processors, hydrolic controls and balance controlled inputs via electronic cabling; if any of that is damaged in flight - the bird is not stable enough to 'fly'.
Tail: A single tall rear support directly over the engine exhaust port, with smaller fins that mimic the shape of the larger wing surfaces. The rear wing is mounted above the blended body in a structure that houses additional sensors and a refueling point. The plane is not considered 'stealth' but the blended body and smaller footprint of the warbird - in comparison to the F-15, do make it a low observable aircraft.
Armament: Things that go boom, pop, bang and zip. F-16 Mission Missile Configurations
Defensive Counterair AMRAAM AMRAAM Sidewinder 370g
1 AMRAAM GBU24 370g Tank LANTIRN 370g Tank GBU24 AMRAAM
2 Sidewinder AGM65 370g Tank ECM Pod 370g Tank AGM65 Sidewinder
Suppress Enemy Air Defense Sidewinder Harm 370g Tank LANTIRN or 370g Tank Harm
This is the plane that is Turkey's inventory that downed the Russian Su-24 the last week of November. Pay attention to this area - it is about to get hotter than DC is letting on.
*Information compiled from Northrup, FAS, Janes and Open Source Media.