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Lockheed Martin F-21 (Fighting Falcon)

4.5 Generation Multirole Fighter Aircraft

Lockheed Martin F-21 (Fighting Falcon)

4.5 Generation Multirole Fighter Aircraft


The Lockheed F-21 is an F-16 Fighting Falcon-based proposal aimed at a standing Indian Air Force requirement covering some 110 potential fighter aircraft.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 2025
STATUS: In-Development
MANUFACTURER(S): Lockheed Martin - USA
OPERATORS: India (possible)

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Lockheed Martin F-21 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
CREW: 1 or 2
LENGTH: 49.38 feet (15.05 meters)
WIDTH: 32.64 feet (9.95 meters)
HEIGHT: 16.01 feet (4.88 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 18,960 pounds (8,600 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 42,329 pounds (19,200 kilograms)
ENGINE: ESTIMATED: 1 x General Electric F110-GE-129 afterburning turbofan engine developing around 18,000lb thrust on dry and near 30,000lb of thrust with reheat.
SPEED (MAX): 1,317 miles-per-hour (2,120 kilometers-per-hour; 1,145 knots)
RANGE: 2,622 miles (4,220 kilometers; 2,279 nautical miles)
CEILING: 50,033 feet (15,250 meters; 9.48 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 50,000 feet-per-minute (15,240 meters-per-minute)

1 x 20mm M61A1 Vulcan Gatling-style internal cannon.

Support for all in-service Indian Air Force munitions including short-range and medium-range missiles, air-to-surface missiles, anti-ship missiles, conventional and precision-guided drop bombs, rocket pods and the like. Notable support for the American AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM).

Also support for jettisonable fuel tanks and various mission pods to enhance search, track, and attack capabilities.
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft Gatling-style rotating gun
Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of a medium-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of an aircraft air-to-surface missile
Graphical image of an aircraft anti-ship missile
Graphical image of an aircraft rocket pod
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft guided bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft external fuel tank

Series Model Variants
• F-21 ("Fighter for the 21st Century") - Base Project Designation.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Lockheed Martin F-21 (Fighting Falcon) 4.5 Generation Multirole Fighter Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 2/26/2019. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The F-21 is an advanced version of the F-16 "Fighting Falcon" multirole fighter being offered by Lockheed Martin to fulfill a standing Indian Air Force (IAF) requirement covering some 110 total fighters. The aircraft is a direct offshoot of the Fighting Falcon line but a considerable evolution of the family, incorporating all-modern qualities and enhanced performance and capabilities. The aircraft is being touted alongside a local-production initiative to have the fighters built in India (falling under the national battle cry of "In India, For India") with Lockheed Martin partnering with the local Indian concern of Tata Advanced Systems (TAS)

Lockheed had previously offered the IAF its F-16IN (Block 70) Fighting Falcon model - the F-21 replaces this bid. Key competitors in the 110-strong IAF fighter bid is the American Boeing F/A-18 "Super Hornet", the French Dassault "Rafale" (of which India has already contracted for in another requirement), the Euro-centric Eurofighter "Typhoon", the Swedish Saab JAS 39E/F "Gripen", the Russian Mikoyan MiG-35 "Fulcrum" (Indian already operates the older MiG-29), and the Russian Sukhoi Su-35 "Flanker" (Indian already operates the Su-30 mark). Certainly siding with an existing design (like those offered from Mikoyan and Sukhoi - under the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) umbrella) would ease logistics for the service in the long-run and continue evolving the Indian-Russian military relationship - but all are capable 4.0th/4.5th Generation fighter mounts in their own right.

As proposed, the F-21 sports no fewer than three underwing hardpoints to a wing mainplane member with the two most internal pairing plumbed for jettisonable fuel tanks (increasing operational ranges). Wingtip missile hardpoints from the original F-16 are retained in the F-21's design and these further support the AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced, Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile). Another key addition is the "triple-launcher" shown equipped with three AMRAAMs each at the center underwing hardpoints - this translates to ten total Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs) carried aloft at any one point: 8 x AIM-120 AMRAAMs and 2 xAIM-9 "Sidewinder" short-ranged AAM types. Under the fuselage are several reserved hardpoints points for various mission supporting pods used in targeting, search, tracking, and engagement actions.

Over the dorsal spine of the aircraft is an equipment fairing and to either side of the spine are conformal fuel tank fairings (another feature increasing the aircraft's operational range at the expense of more drag). The retractable fuel probe, a key requirement from the IAF, is set to the starboard side, emerging from the right-hand-side conformal fairing. As shown in Lockheed marketing videos, the F-21 would be able to deploy a decoy unit behind it increased survivability against inbound missile threats. The nose is set to house an Active, Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA) radar fit common to most modern aircraft types today, giving superior search-and-track functionality from the cockpit and aiding in weapons management and control. More so, some of the technologies developed for the 5th Generation Lockheed F-22 "Raptor" and F-35 "Lightning II" programs of the United States Air Force are said to figure into making the F-21 an advanced, modern solution for the upgrading IAF - all this atop the proven, storied airframe that is the F-16 Fighting Falcon (originally a General Dynamics product of the 1970s).

Inside the aircraft, a large-area, full-color touchscreen display will dominate the instrument panel and other expected features, such as pressurization and a Zero-Zero ejection seat would figure into the design. The IAF would be seeking both single-seat and twin-seat aircraft types in the order.

What is retained from the original F-16 Fighting Falcon is the nose-mounted radar fit, wide-view canopy, single engine installation (limiting survivability and range but lowering complexity and cost), the oval-shaped underfuselage intake, and single-finned tail unit. Large ventral strakes seen under the tail section add stability and control, enhancing attack angles. For landing, a brake chute would be deployed to considerably retard the approaching aircraft's runway roll atop its tricycle undercarriage.

Like other aircraft for this IAF bid, the F-21 remains a potent candidate. The IAF is seeking to supplant an aging fleet of MiG-21 and MiG-27 fighters/strike fighters with a single foreign solution that can be built locally in budget. At least 85% of the complete fleet of new aircraft would have to be constructed on Indian soil.


General Assessment (BETA)

Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
MF Power Rating (BETA)
The MF Power Rating takes into account over sixty individual factors related to this aircraft entry. The rating is out of 100 total possible points.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 1400mph
Lo: 700mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (1,317mph).

    Graph average of 1050 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Lockheed Martin F-21's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
In the Cockpit...
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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