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General Dynamics F-16A Fighting Falcon Thunderbird

History of the F-16 Fighting Falcon Thunderbird

Considered the backbone of the United States Air Force’s (USAF) fighter fleet for more than three decades, the F-16 Fighting Falcon has, and continues to play an important role in air superiority. However, it has also been the airframe used by the USAF’s premier demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, for more than 30 years. Remaining true to the Thunderbirds’ character to showcase the latest advancement in America’s fighter technology, the first red, white and blue F-16A assigned to the Thunderbirds was delivered to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, in June 1982.

General Dynamics F-16A Fighting Falcon Thunderbird

Serial Number: 81-0678

Manufacturer: General Dynamics

Crew: One

Engines: One Pratt & Whitney F-100-PW-200 turbofan; 23,830 pounds thrust in afterburner

Wingspan: 32 feet 9 1/2 inches

Length: 49 feet 3 1/2 inches

Height: 16 feet 8 1/2 inches

Weight: 16,285 pounds (empty); 25,281 pounds (combat); 37,500 pounds (maximum)

Speed: 577 mph (cruising); 1,345 mph, Mach 2.05 (maximum)

Range: 340 miles (combat); 2,415 miles (transit)

Service Ceiling: 55,000 feet

Armament: One 20mm M61A1 rotary cannon; AIM-9 air-to-air missiles on wingtips; various ordnance

Cost: $8,200,000 (approximate)

The Thunderbirds at Hill Air Force Base

Throughout the years, in addition to the operations mission, Hill Air Force Base has supported a robust F-16 maintenance mission—to include structural, electrical, commodities and software. Furthermore, Hill Air Force Base has been home to the F-16 System Program Office for years, overseeing the development, acquisition, modernization and sustainment of this multirole, combat aircraft. All these entities have and still do maintain and sustain the Thunderbird fleet.

The aircraft on display was assigned to the Thunderbirds from 1982–1991. After then spending a few years in the active fleet, it transferred to Sheppard Air Force Base for training use. Hill Aerospace Museum received this aircraft from Sheppard in October 2017.