In the mid-eighties, the USNavy was eagerly seeking a replacement for its agressor training aircraft. Both the F-5 and A-4 were in service at the time. The Navy found that these aircraft were not longer to their satisfaction in furfilling this task. These aircraft lacked the latest avionics developments and they were becoming obsolete very soon, with extensive maintenance being required. Also the lack of a high maneuverable and fast jet aircraft to perform this agressor training was felt very badly. A decision was taken to develope a customised version of the F-16 to fill this gap.
Structure & Avionics
US Navy agressor F-16N. (LMTAS photo)
The F-16N is based on the standard F-16C/D block 30 and is powered by the General Electric F110-GE-100 engine. However, the F-16N has a strengthened wing and is capable of carrying an Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation (ACMI) pod on the starboard wingtip.
The ACMI pod allows details of air-to-air engagements to be transmitted to a ground station. Although the (T)F-16N's are based on the early-production small-inlet Block 30 F-16C/D airframe, they retain the APG-66 radar of the F-16A/B. However, they have no cannon or ASPJ and carry no missiles. Their EW fit consists of an ALR-69 radar warning receiver (RWR) and an ALE-40 chaff/flare dispenser. The (T)F-16N's have the standard Air Force tailhook and undercarriage, and are definitely NOT carrier capable.
Production totalled 26 airframes of which 22 are singel-seat F-16N's and 4 are double-seat TF-16N's. The aircraft were in service between 1988 and 1998. At that time hair cracks were discovered in several bulckheads. The Navy didn't have the resources to replace them, so the aircraft were placed into storage at AMARC, ultimately being replaced by embargoed ex-Pakistani F-16s in 2003.
Engine: One General Electric F110-GE-100 turbofan, rated at 17,155 lb.s.t. dry and 28,984 lb.s.t. with afterburning.
Performance: Maximum short-endurance speed: Mach 2.02 (1333 mph) at 40,000 feet. Maximum sustained speed Mach 1.89 (1247 mph) at 40,000 feet.
Dimensions: wingspan 31 feet 0 inches, length 49 feet 4 inches, height 16 feet 8 1/2 inches, wing area 300 square feet.
Weights: under 18,000 pounds empty, under 40,000 pounds maximum takeoff.