Lockheed Martin Marks Aviation Milestone
Lockheed Martin marked
a significant milestone in aviation history when it commemorated
the 30th anniversary of the first flight of the F-16 jet fighter on
The first F-16 prototype, YF-16 No. 1, completed its first
official flight on Feb. 2, 1974, from the Air Force Flight Test
Center at Edwards Air Force Base (CA).
"The YF-16 was a revolutionary technology demonstrator three
decades ago," said John L. Bean, vice president of F-16
"The technologies it introduced -- like fly-by-wire flight
control, relaxed static stability, wing- body blending, variable
camber wing, high-g cockpit, highly integrated digital avionics
using a MIL-STD-1553 multiplex data bus and modular construction --
have become common for fighters introduced since,"Bean added.
Phil Oestricher, retired General Dynamics test pilot for the
first flight, recalls that historic flight: "A team of engineering
disciplines came together in a marvelous fashion to produce an
aircraft that was very powerful, agile, small, easy to handle and
low cost. And it looked great! It was a real joy to fly. I am very
proud to have been on the front end of this great fighter
In an unusual twist, Oestricher had inadvertently flown the
aircraft two weeks earlier -- Flight "0" -- when he elected to take
the aircraft airborne after experiencing major control anomalies
during a high-speed taxi test. Oestricher pointed out that this was
before the days of high-fidelity flight simulators that can predict
complex effects of gain settings in flight control laws.
Bean said the F-16 has evolved into the most capable, most
versatile, most affordable, most supportable and most popular
multi-role fighter of its time.
"The F-16 has been an evolutionary aircraft since its prototype
days and epitomized what we call today 'spiral development'," Bean
said. "It has exceeded everyone's highest expectations. Considering
all of the program metrics, it easily qualifies as the most
successful fighter of the jet age."
Lockheed Martin has
continued to make significant development advances for its
worldwide F-16 customers, recently introducing the Advanced Block
50/52 and F-16E/F Block 60 versions. These will continue production
through 2008, and with anticipated follow-on sales and potential
new markets, Lockheed Martin believes the F-16 line could extend
well beyond that timeframe.
The F-16 is the choice of 24 countries. More than 4,000 aircraft
have been delivered worldwide from assembly lines in five
countries. The F-16 program recently marked 25 years of continuous
production deliveries and has forged relationships leading to
unprecedented international cooperation. Hundreds more aircraft are
on order, and production is expected to continue beyond 2008. Major
upgrades for all F-16 versions are being incorporated to keep the
fleet modern and fully supportable over the aircraft's long service
Headquartered in Bethesda (MD), Lockheed Martin Corp. employs
about 130,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the
research, design, development, manufacture and integration of
advanced technology systems, products and services.