The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, single-engined jet fighter aircraft manufactured for the United States Air Force (USAF). Though designed as a lightweight fighter, it has evolved into a successful multirole aircraft. It is highly maneuverable and has proven its worth in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. The Falcon is the largest Western fighter program with over 4,000 aircraft built since its production in 1976. Though no longer produced for the Air Force, it is still being made for export. Its relatively low cost and high performance has made it popular worldwide, serving a total of 24 countries. The F-16C is the upgraded version of the F-16A, with the latest cockpit control and display technology.
The Falcon has participated in numerous conflicts, mostly in the Middle East. Since the end of Operation Desert Storm, it patrolled the Iraqi no-fly zones. Two air-to-air victories were scored in Operation Southern Watch, the first one by an F-16D and the second by an F-16C. On January 17, 1993, an F-16C destroyed an Iraqi MiG-23 with an AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM). The F-16 was also employed by NATO during Operation Allied Force over Yugoslavia, conducting air-to-ground sorties and achieving one or two aerial victories, one by a Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16A and another possibly by a USAF F-16C. A Yugoslavian MiG-29 may have been shot down by an F16C with two AMRAAMs, but the Serbs subsequently found fragments of a Strela-2M MANPAD in the wreckage of the MiG-29.
The USAF plans to retain the Falcon until 2025. It can be seen in movies such as Blue Thunder, Jewel of the Nile, the Iron Eagle series, X2 and The Sum of All Fears. The aircraft is also a popular model for computer flight simulators, appearing in over twenty games, including F-16 Fighting Falcon, Strike Commander and iF-16.