The aircraft descends from the Lockheed Martin X-35, which in 2001 beat the Boeing X-32 to win the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. Its development is principally funded by the United States, with additional funding from program partner countries from NATO and close U.S. allies, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Italy, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and formerly Turkey. Several other countries have ordered, or are considering ordering, the aircraft. The program has drawn much scrutiny and criticism for its unprecedented size, complexity, ballooning costs, and much-delayed deliveries, with numerous technical flaws still being corrected.[N 1] The acquisition strategy of concurrent production of the aircraft while it was still in development and testing led to expensive design changes and retrofits.
The F-16 is a single-engine, highly maneuverable, supersonic, multi-role tactical fighter aircraft. It is much smaller and lighter than its predecessors, but uses advanced aerodynamics and avionics, including the first use of a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire (RSS/FBW) flight control system, to achieve enhanced maneuver performance. Highly agile, the F-16 was the first fighter aircraft purpose-built to pull 9-g maneuvers and can reach a maximum speed of over Mach 2. Innovations include a frameless bubble canopy for better visibility, a side-mounted control stick, and a reclined seat to reduce g-force effects on the pilot. It is armed with an internal M61 Vulcan cannon in the left wing root and has multiple locations for mounting various missiles, bombs and pods. It has a thrust-to-weight ratio greater than one, providing power to climb and vertical acceleration
|Role||Stealth multirole fighter|
|National origin||United States|
|First flight||15 December 2006(F-35A)|
|Introduction||F-35B: 31 July 2015 (USMC)|
F-35A: 2 August 2016 (USAF)
F-35C: 28 February 2019 (USN)
|Primary users||United States Air Force|
United States Marine Corps
United States Navy
Royal Air Force
See Operators section for others
|Number built||625+ as of April 1, 2021|
|Developed from||Lockheed Martin X-35|
An air force, also known in some countries as an aerospace force or air army, is in the broadest sense, the national military branch that primarily conducts aerial warfare.