The Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 50/52/60 represents a further step in the evolution of the F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole jet fighter. There are many new modifications, most of them internally, but the biggest change visible to the eye is the pair of removable conformal fuel tanks and a dorsal avionics compartment that make the new Falcon one of the ugliest jets ever.
The conformal fuel tanks hold 450 US gallons of fuel each and do not alter the agility of the aircraft. The aircraft’s mission range and combat endurance is also increased. The fitting of conformal tanks makes the two wing inner store stations normally used for external tanks (stations 6 and 4, each rated at 4,500lb capacity) available for weapon carriage, doubling the aircraft’s air-to-ground weapons capacity. The large dorsal compartment extends from the rear of the cockpit to the fin and houses additional avionics equipment.
The Block 50/52/60 variants represent the largest ever change configuration change of the F-16. With a common engine bay, the aircraft can be equipped with the General Electric F110-GE-129 engine or the the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229, both rated at 29,000 pounds of thrust. The Block 60 comes with the General Electric F-110-GE-132 engine that produces 32,500 pounds of thrust.
Other modifications include new or improved avionics and sensors, color cockpit displays with enhanced pilot/vehicle interfaces and so on. USA, Greece, Israel, Chile, UAE and Poland are some of the countries that use the Block 50/52/60.
The F-16 gained fame during Operation Desert Storm and since then it has remained one of the world’s well known jets.
Known to its pilots as the Viper, over 4,000 Falcons have taken to the sky since production started in 1976. I still have to say that those conformal fuel tanks make this one ugly airplane.
Wing span 9.45m
Empty weight 8,809kg
Maximum take-off weight 23,582kg
Thrust 129.4kN (29,000lb)/132 kN (32,500lb)
Maneuverability, g-limit +9g
Speed Over Mach 2