The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft that provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the U.S. and allied nations. In an air combat role, the F-16's maneuverability and combat radius exceed that of all potential enemy fighter aircraft. In an air-to-surface role, the F-16 can fly more than 500 miles, deliver its weapons with accuracy, defend itself against enemy aircraft and return to its starting point. The first F-16 to fly was a single-seat model that left the ground in 1976. The first operational F-16 was delivered in 1979 to the 40th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. The F-16 was built under a unique agreement between the U.S. and the NATO countries. The benefits were to be a technology transfer among the countries, and a common-use aircraft for the NATO nations. USAF F-16 multi-mission fighters were deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1991 to support Operation Desert suppression of enemy air defense, offensive counter air, defensive counter air, close air support and forward air controller missions. Mission results were outstanding as these fighters destroyed radar sites, vehicles, tanks, MIGs and buildings.
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