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The Strange Path The F-16 Took To Become U.S. Air Force’s Number One Fighter Jet

July 15, 2016

Experiences in the Vietnam War revealed the need for air superiority, fighters and better air-to-air training for fighter pilots. Based on his experiences in the Korean War and as a fighter tactical instructor in the early 1960s, Colonel John Boyd with mathematician Thomas Christie developed the Energy–maneuverability theory to model a fighter aircraft’s performance in combat.


Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4,500 aircraft have been built since production was approved in 1976. More notably, the F-16 has also been procured to serve in the air forces of 25 other nations. As of 2015, it is the second most common operational military aircraft in the world.

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