Other Air-to-Air Missiles
Some export operators of the F-16 carry their own specialized air-to-air missiles in the place of the Sidewinder/AMRAAM set carried by USAF F-16C/Ds.
Pakistani F-16s can carry Matra R.550 Magic 2 air-to-air infrared homing missiles and Sidewinders. The original Magic I entered service in 1975, and the improved Magic 2 entered service in late 1985. The first qualification firings of the R.550 from the F-16 began in May of 1989. The Magic 2 differs from the Magic 1 in having an all-aspect infrared seeker, which can be slaved to the launching aircraft's air-interception radar and steered onto the designated target before launch (the Magic 1's seeker carried out an autonomous search before launch). The R.550 has a launch weight of 198 pounds, a length of 109 inches, a body diameter of 6.2 inches, and a fin span of 26.3 inches. The maximum range is of the order of 10 kilometers. The missile has a 28-pound rod/fragmentation type high explosive warhead with an all-sector proximity fuse or impact-loop detonation that is better suited to head-on interceptions than was the warhead of the Magic 1.
Israeli F-16s can carry the Rafael Python 3 missile on the Sidewinder wingtip rails. The Python 3 was rushed into service during the 1982 Israeli incursion into Lebanon, with pre-production rounds being tested in actual air-to-air combat against Syrian aircraft. The Python 3 is an infrared homer having a weight of about 265 pounds and is 118 inches long with a body diameter of 6.25 inches and a fin span of 33.9 inches. The conventional rod-type high-explosive warhead weighs 24 pounds. It has a maximum range of about 15 kilometers and a maximum speed of Mach 3.5. The infrared seeker of the Python 3 has a plus or minus 30-degree gimbal angle and can be operated in boresight, uncaged, or radar-slaved mode. The Python 3 is claimed by Israel to have a speed, turning radius, and range superior to that of the AIM-9L Sidewinder.
Specialized F-16A/B aircraft serving with air defense units of the Air National Guard could carry and launch the AIM-7 Sparrow missile from the outermost underwing hardpoints. In addition, export F-16 customers such as Bahrain and Egypt can carry and launch Sparrow missiles. The current versions are the AIM-7M and AIM-7P. The first Sparrow versions to see large-scale service were the AIM-7E, AIM-7E2, and AIM-7F, but combat results with these missiles during the 1960s over Vietnam were disappointing. The AIM-7F version of the Sparrow introduced solid-state electronics as substitutes for the miniature vacuum tubes of the earlier versions. This miniaturization enabled the warhead to be moved forward of the wings, with the aft part of the missile being devoted almost entirely to the rocket motor. The extra space that was made available by the introduction of solid-state miniaturization made it possible to introduce a dual-thrust booster/sustainer rocket motor that enabl! ed the effective range of the Sparrow to be essentially doubled (up to 28-30 miles) in a head-on engagement. The AIM-7L had fewer tubes and more solid state features. The AIM-7M introduced in 1982 featured a inverse-processed digital monopulse seeker which was more difficult to detect and jam and provided better look-down, shoot-down capability. The AIM-7P was fitted with improved guidance electronics including an on-board computer based on VLSIC technology. It is intended to have better capability against small targets such as cruise missiles and sea-skimming antiship missiles.
The AIM-7M is 12 feet long and has a launch weight of about 500 pounds. The missile carries a 85-pound high-explosive blast fragmentation warhead. It has two sets of delta-shaped fins--a set of fixed fins at the rear of the missile and a set of movable fins at the middle of the missile for steering. The maximum effective range is of the order of 45 kilometers (28 miles).
Bombs and Ground-Attack Missiles
The F-16 has six underwing hardpoints and one under-fuselage hardpoint for the carriage of fuel tanks or weapons. A huge variety of weapons can be carried, including air-to-surface missiles, "smart" bombs, conventional iron bombs, and even tactical nuclear weapons.
Guided weapons that can be carried by the F-16 include antiradiation missiles such as the AGM-45 Shrike, the AGM-78 Standard, and the Texas Instruments AGM-88 HARM.
Norwegian F-16s have an important anti-shipping role, and can carry and launch the locally-built Kongsberg Vapenfabrikk Penguin 3 antiship missile. Deliveries of the Penguin 3 began in 1987. The weapon was tested by the USAF under the designation AGM-119. Midcourse guidance is by an inertial system and radio altimeter, while final aiming is by an infrared seeker.
An impressive array of bombs can be carried on the six underwing pylons. The F-16 can deliver smart, laser-guided bombs if there is another laser-equipped aircraft nearby (or a facility on the ground) which can illuminate the target to be attacked. Later LANTIRN-equipped F-16C/Ds can carry their own laser designator and can therefore deliver smart bombs without assistance.