A brand-new, unpainted F-16C leaves the production line at Lockheed's Fort Worth facilities.
The F-16 has been in nearly continuous production since 1979, spanning more than 30 years. Three distinct phases can be distinguished: prototypes and FSD aircraft were built from 1974 till 1978; volume production started in 1978, tapering off by 2001; a second volume production run started in 2002 and continuing till today.
Between 1974 and 1978, the various prototypes and Full Scale Development airframes were built. In 1974, the two YF-16
prototypes were built and delivered to the USAF for particiaption in the fly-offs against the YF-17 for the Light-Weight Fighter program. After selection of the F-16 in 1975, 8 Full-Scale Development aircraft were built and delivered starting in 1976.
In 1978 production starts to ramp up and the first operational block 1
aircraft are delivered to the USAF and to the EPAF
, and Norway
). At this point, a total of 998 aircraft were on order. Production continuous to increase as more nations place orders: Israel
are all early adopters of the F-16. Ultimately, 20 nations order the F-16 between 1978 and 2000. Aircraft built during this period were either F-16A/B variants, or F-16C/D (block 25/30/32/40/42/50/52).
Starting in 2002, production increases again. This is due to a combination of new customers (Oman
). Variants produced since 2002 include F-16C/D block 40/42/50/52 aircraft, but also the F-16I aircraft for Israel
and the block 60
aircraft for the United Arab Emrates.
A number of aircraft show up as "canceled" or "re-assigned". As explained above, these are aircraft from canceled orders. If the production hasn't started, the airframes are simply canceled. If production has started, the aircraft are typically re-assigned to another customer (for the same type of F-16 obviously), and re-assigned. In 1979, this was the case with Iran. After the fall of the Shah, Iran's F-16 order was canceled (by the US government). F-16s already on the production line were re-assigned to Israel - hence those F-16s show up as canceled for Iran, with delivery to Israel. The aircraft that already were on the production line of the canceled order for Pakistan
were flown directly to AMARC
. A large batch of cancelations also happened after the end of the Cold War with the USAF. They cut on the block 40
production drastically (200+ airframes).
Sometimes, cancelations are also just administrative decisions. If production slots were reserved for some countries, but they eventually decided to place the order a year later, then these aircraft show up as canceled in the year the production slots were allocated at first. This does not necessarilly mean those coutries canceled some orders, albeight just reshuffling them over the allocated delivery slots.