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General Dynamics F-16XL

Technology Demonstrator / Research Aircraft

General Dynamics F-16XL

Technology Demonstrator / Research Aircraft

OVERVIEW
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
HISTORY
MEDIA
OVERVIEW



The General Dynamics F-16XL was developed from the existing F-16 multirole fighter, originally for research and then as a potential strike fighter for the USAF.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 1982
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): General Dynamics / NASA
PRODUCTION: 2
OPERATORS: United States
SPECIFICATIONS



Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the General Dynamics F-16XL model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
CREW: 1
LENGTH: 54.13 feet (16.5 meters)
WIDTH: 34.12 feet (10.4 meters)
HEIGHT: 17.59 feet (5.36 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 22,046 pounds (10,000 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 48,061 pounds (21,800 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x General Electric F110-GE-100 turbofan engine developing 28,900lbs of thrust with afterburner.
SPEED (MAX): 1,398 miles-per-hour (2250 kilometers-per-hour; 1,215 knots)
RANGE: 1,771 miles (2,850 kilometers; 1,539 nautical miles)
CEILING: 49,213 feet (15,000 meters; 9.32 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 62,000 feet-per-minute (18,898 meters-per-minute)




ARMAMENT



STANDARD:
1 x 20mm cannon M61 Vulcan internal cannon

OPTIONAL (evaluated):
Mission-specific ordnance would have included an array of standard drop bombs, laser-guided bombs, air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface missiles.
VARIANTS



Series Model Variants
• F-16XL (S/N 75-0749 - Single-seat prototype.
• F-16XL (S/N 75-0747 - Two-seat prototype.


HISTORY



Detailing the development and operational history of the General Dynamics F-16XL Technology Demonstrator / Research Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 10/23/2017. Authored by Dan Alex. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
What began life as a General Dynamics research project evolved into a United States Air Force contender to replace the expensive, complex and large General Dynamics F-111 "Aardvark" swing-wing interdictor fighter-bomber. The resulting product became the "F-16XL", a highly-modified form of the original F-16 "Fighting Falcon" multi-role fighter. The F-16XL was pitted against a McDonnell Douglas offering, this a ground-attack/fighter-bomber derivative of the original F-15 Eagle air superiority fighter but lost out in the USAF decision. Despite its promising nature, the F-16XL fell to aviation history with just two completed prototypes.

Debuting in 1974, the original Fighting Falcon was adopted for U.S. military service in 1978 and went on to see well over 4,500 units produced (now under the Lockheed Martin banner). It has become an export favorite and remains well-liked by her pilots for her multi-faceted mission qualities. The F-16XL itself was born through a research-minded endeavor undertaken by General Dynamics in the mid-to-late 1970s as the F-16 "SCAMP" ("Supersonic Cruise and Maneuver Prototype"). The program was a design study centering on the effects of laminar airflow at supersonic speeds along with the causes and effects of sonic booms.

The end result was an evolution of the original F-16 approach which included an all new wing planform consisting of a "cranked-arrow" delta surface area. This allowed for improved lift (at the expense of increased drag), increased maneuverability and range. Along with the changes to the wing, the aircraft was a whole four feet longer than the original F-16. The two completed prototypes became S/N 75-0747 and S/N 75-0749.

In 1981, the Enhanced Tactical Fighter (ETF) competition was in play and the F-16XL was entered to face-off against the modified F-15 for the USAF challenge. The F-16XL was evaluated with wing-mounted and underfuselage air-to-air missiles as well as loads of conventional drop bombs under the many available hardpoints found under the new wing area. Testing began in 1982.




General Dynamics F-16XL (Cont'd)

Technology Demonstrator / Research Aircraft

General Dynamics F-16XL (Cont'd)

Technology Demonstrator / Research Aircraft



The F-16XL featured an overall length of 54 feet with a wingspan of 34 feet and height of 17.6 feet. When empty, it exhibited a weight of 22,000lbs and 48,000lbs for a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW). Power was served through 1 x General Electric F110-GE-100 turbofan engine offering 17,100lbs through dry thrust and 29,000lbs with afterburner engaged. Performance included a maximum speed of 1,400 miles per hour (Mach 2), a cruise speed of 600 miles per hour, a range of 2,850 miles, a service ceiling of 50,000 feet and a rate-of-climb reaching 62,000 feet per minute. The F-16XL held an inherent operational range that proved nearly double that of the original F-16 offering.

Armament-wise, the F-16XL fielded a single 20mm M61 Vulcan internal Gatling cannon for close-in engagements. Its offensive capacity was relatively staggering when compared to the original F-16 mount. There proved some 27 hardpoints overall, allowing the aircraft to manage a bevy of missiles and conventional drop ordnance. There were sixteen underwing stations cleared to carry 750lbs each while two positions were plumbed for external fuel stores. The wingtips were reserved for the tried-and-true AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile. There were four semi-recessed positions and used to carry AIM-120 AMRAAM medium-ranged air-to-air missiles. A fuselage centerline position was multipurpose and two chin positions were outfitted with LANTIRN (Low-Altitude Navigation and Targeting InfraRed for Night) equipment. All told, the aircraft offered double the weapons-carrying capability of the original F-16.

Despite the changes, the USAF elected to go in the direction of the F-15 derivative in 1984 and this begat the F-15E "Strike Eagle" still in use today. The F-15E held several inherent advantages over the enhanced F-16XL: its twin-engine configuration offering not only more power and speed but also improved the survivability of both air crew and airframe during low-level strike runs. The existing F-15 airframe also required far less modifications to achieve the strike role - a second cockpit was added aft of the primary one and this outfitted with the necessary ground attack instrumentation. There already existed a two-seat trainer variant so the airframe was more or less proven for the conversion process. Comparatively, the F-16XL relied on a single engine which meant any direct damage to the installation endangered both crew and airframe. The first F-16XL prototype was a single-seat model which forced the crewman to take on all the duties of mission management and attack. The second prototype introduced a second crew station. Lastly, the changes required to the existing F-16 airframe were both complex and expensive in the terms of serial production, clearly giving the advantage to the McDonnell Douglas design in the eyes of USAF brass.

As such, the F-16XL was passed over as America's F-111 replacement. After their days as USAF test subjects, the prototypes were passed on to NASA for further flight research and some additional modifications to the designed ensued. Testing was headed through the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California until about 1999 before both were placed into storage. They were officially retired as recently as 2009 and remain in storage to this day (February 2014), leaving their full capabilities as a strike fighter to the imagination of the reader.

Despite the setback, the F-16 line has enjoyed a healthy service life the world over and continues to play an important front-line role for many nations including the United States.




MEDIA









Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 1400mph
Lo: 700mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (1,398mph).

    Graph average of 1050 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LDN
LDN
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MSK
MSK
 
  TKY
TKY
 
  SYD
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  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the General Dynamics F-16XL (S/N 75-0749)'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
2
2

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
A2A
Interception
UAV
Ground Attack
CAS
Training
ASW
Anti-Ship
AEW
MEDEVAC
EW
Maritime/Navy
SAR
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
VIP
Passenger
Business
Recon
SPECOPS
X-Plane/Development
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