Tom Kaminski examines the USAF’s fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons and how the type has been transformed from an air-to-air fighter to one fulfilling a range of roles

A Block 42 F-16C from the Ohio ANG’s 180th FW drops a pair of inert 2,000lb GBU-24 laser-guided bombs during a training mission. It is wearing the latest Have Glass V paint scheme. Jim Haseltine

Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Fighting Falcon has served as a multi-role fighter for the USAF for more than three decades, and according to the service’s plans it will remain in the operational inventory until 2048 or beyond. Originally designed for air-to-air combat, it can now also use a wide variety of nuclear and conventional weapons for air-to-ground tasks. Among its assigned missions, the fighter is tasked with close air support (CAS), interdiction, precision strike, suppression/destruction of enemy air defences (SEAD/DEAD), armed reconnaissance and homeland air defence.

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