The aircraft had a few tense moments during its first two flights. On both flights, the nose landing gear would not fully extend for landing. Gear extend /retract tests on the ground had gone well, so no one expected any problems in flight. However, since the NLG extends down and forward, the air pressure of 200 kt at extension prevented full extension. The pilot, Neal Anderson, tried extending at a lower airspeed, pulling 3g, etc., all to no avail. For some reason he flipped the alternate flap switch and the hydraulic pressure pulse was just enough to lock the gear down. About 50 guys in the control room started to breath again. After the flight, gear rigging adjustments were made to correct the problem. Or so we thought! On flight 2, the same thing happened. Neal was not pleased to say the least.
In 1975, the US Navy had expressed interest in a low-cost alternative to the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. General Dynamics proposed a navalized YF-16, with BVR radar, which was not part of the original planning for the USAF. The aircraft was briefly painted in a two-tone blue/light-brown color scheme for naval evaluation purposes. General Dynamics refined the proposal into a single-seat F-16, based on the two-seat F-16B - with the space ordinarily occupied by the rear seat used for increased avionics or fuel. On May 2nd, 1975, the Navy announced that they had decided not to buy the navalized F-16, but opted instead for an aircraft developed from the YF-17, which was eventually to emerge as the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet.
05 Mar 1975
Accepted by the USAF. The airframe had a gray colorscheme for a very brief period.
The aircraft used to perform some tests with the AIM-7 Sparrow missile. Only with the introduction of the ADF version of the F-16, a BVR missile capacity was added to the airframe.
Belly landed on a grass area next to the runway at Carswell AFB, Texas. The right main landing gear jammed due to gyroscopic forces from right max-rate roll while the gear was being retracted. The aircraft was only slightly damaged (inlet duct buckling, FS227 bulkhead cracks, etc.). It was scheduled to appear at the Paris air show but due to the mishap the first prototype was sent.
Aircraft remained inactive, but was used for static displays.