Many F-16s have surpassed the original design life of 4,000 hours by far. This is the first F-16 to fly 7,000 hours, a USAF F-16C block 25
jet called 'Lethal Lady', from the 134th FS
. The aircraft was retired a few months later.
As can be expected, many of the older airframes (F-16A/B) are no longer active. Only a handful of block 5
and block 10
aircraft for example are still flying at the time of writing (30 for the former, 70 for the latter). A significant amount has ended up as instructional airframe, or preserved as gate guards or in museums. This is of course no surprise, since typically the first aircraft to retire are used in this capacity. Other block 1-15 airframes have been placed in storage at facilities like AMARC
in the US or Weelde in Belgium
, waiting to be sold. At the time of writing, 34 F-16s have actually been scrapped - Belgium
and the Netherlands
being the only countries so far to take this step with the US to follow in 2009.
As illustrated in previous reports, a large number of block 15
and block 15OCU
aircraft have been converted into ADF
(Air Defense Fighter) or MLU
(Mid-Life Update) models. Since then, USAF has placed most of the ADF models in storage. The 69 that are still active were actually brought out of storage and sold/leased to Italy
. Most of the MLU aircraft are still active, the conversion being fairly recent and providing enough advanced capabilities to keep the aircraft current until at least 2020-2025.
As far as the C/D fleet is concerned (block 25
and up), most airframes are still active, except for the ones lost due to attrition. The next article will explore the attrition rates in detail. Some of the earlier C/D airframes have already been placed in storage, mainly block 25 and block 30
aircraft, since these airframes are reaching the end of their designed hours (8,000), with some of those airframes reaching 7,300 - 7,500 hours.