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The General Dynamics F-16XL was a ground attack variant of the famous F-16 Fighting Falcon, entered in a competition alongside the F-15E Strike Eagle to be the new USAF light bomber, the F-16XL lost to the F-15E which became the new strike fighter of the EUA. The two F-16XL prototypes built where trafered to the NASA, where they serve untl today.




he F-16XL was first conceived in the eighties as a ground attack aircraft that would serve alongside the F-16 Fighting Falcon. It was one of the aircraft submitted for the US goverbment's Enhanced Tactical Fighter program. For this task, two prototypes were built, F-16XL1 & F-16XL2 (respectively, a one-seater and a two-seater.). However, the F-16XL did not prevail at the end, and was defeated by the McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle

The prototypes were originally built to test the practicality of composite wing skins and both first flew in 1982, the single-seater first flying in July and the two-seater in October. After the prototypes completed their test programs, both were stored until one was delivered to NASA in 1989, where the F-16XL’s service designations would have been F-16E (single-seat) and F-16F (two-seat). The large “Cranked-Arrow” double-delta wing, which identified the –XL from its brethren, had an impressive 6 hardpoints under each wing in addition to the 2 wingtip hardpoints and fuselage hardpoints. The “Cranked-Arrow” wing also allowed more fuel to be carried increasing the Falcon’s already good range and the increased lift allowed for a much shorter takeoff roll. The large delta wing design hindered maneuverability at low speeds, though at higher speeds the –XL could turn almost as fast as the F-16C. Currently, both prototypes are in NASA service.


General CharacteristicsEdit

  • Crew: One (XL #1) or Two (XL #2)
  • Length: 54 ft 2 in (16.51 m)
  • Wingspan: 34 ft 3 in (10.44 m)
  • Height: 17 ft 7 in (5.36 m)
  • Wing area: 646 ft² (60.0 m²)
  • Empty weight: 22,000 lb (9,980 kg)
    F-16 and F-16XL aerial top down view

    F-16XL flying alongside a conventional F-16 Fighting Falcon

  • Loaded weight: 48,000 lb (21,800 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 48,000 lb (21,800 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1× General Electric F110-GE-100 turbofan
    • Dry thrust: 17,100 lbf (76.3 kN)
    • Thrust with afterburner: 28,900 lbf (125 kN)


  • Maximum speed: Mach 2.05 (1,400 mph)
  • Cruise speed: 600 mph
  • Range: 2,480 nmi (2,850 mi, 4,590 km)
  • Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,000 m)
  • Rate of climb: 62,000 ft/min (320 m/s)


  • Guns: 1× 20 mm (0.79 in) M61 Vulcan (Gatling) gun
  • Hardpoints: 17 pylons with a capacity of up to 15,000 lb (6,800 kg) of payload

See alsoEdit

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