F-16C and F-16D Blocks 25 and beyond

Block 25

F-16C Block 25 84-1393/HR
In the first half of the 1980's, when the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle was fully established in service, the F-16 was finally allowed to develop it's qualities. For political reasons the F-16A and B had remained relatively austere in equipment until this time. The first of the new breed, F-16C Block 25, first flew in June 1984. Remarkably, the USAF remained the only user of this block. All in all, 244 F-16 Block 25's were produced. 

A quick means of distinguishing between an F-16A and an F-16C of this early block is the blade antenna on top of the fin root. The antenna had always been threre, but built into the fin root. It had been displaced by a planned but later shelved internal jammer system.  The Block 25 also has a better radar than the F-16A/B had. The Block 25 retained the P&W F100 engine.

This aircraft belonged to the 10th TFS, part of the 50th TFW at Hahn, Germany.

Chievres, 20 June 1987.


Block 30/32


F-16C Block 30 85-1426/RS
Further improvements were incorporated in the Block 30 and Block 32. The Block 30 series introduced the so called "Big Mouth" intake enabling the use of the General Electric F101 engine, developed as an alternative to the P&W F100. Block 30 would use the GE engine along with the larger intake, whilst the similar Block 32 would use the P&W engine. The Block 30 became the most successful of the two due to the engine's higher thrust. 

85-1426/RS depicted here belongen to the 526 TFS of the 86 TFW, then at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.



Kleine Brogel, 31 August 1991.


The Block 30 became the first C/D model to be exported. Examples of customers include both Greece and Turkey. 

Below left, Hellenic Air Force F-16C Block 30 130 from 346 Mira can be seen taxying during a squadron exchange at Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, below right Turkish Air Force  F-16C Block 30 87-0014 from 141 Filo is seen at rest at it's home base of Akinci, Turkey.

Note the non-NATO standard camouflage scheme chosen by Greece. The Greek jet clearly displays the shorter and wider "Turkey-feather" afterburner petals that distinguish the GE engine.

Leeuwarden, 6 June 2001

Akinci, 27 April 1999

Block 40/42


There were however shortcomings with the Block 30/32. Notably in the area of load carrying capability. Although the Block 30/32 could use the LANTIRN laser targeting system if required, carrying it along with a useful bombload would ask a lot of the airframe. Thus, a more suitable air-to-ground variant was developed which had strengthened undercarriage legs to carry the heavier loads. The avionics system was also better integrated.

Like as was the case with the previous block, this new block was made up of the GE powered Block 40 and the P&W powered Block 42.

Prime USAF Europe user of the Block 40 is the Aviano (Italy) based 31 FW.

The fin marking on 89-2050 was applied in 1997 to commemorate the USAF's 50th anniversary. The aircraft is carrying the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile, first deployed with this variant.


Fairford, 21 July 1997.


Israel, Egypt, Bahrain and Turkey became export customers for the Block 40. An example of the latter, F-16D Block 40 90-0023, from 162 Filo can be seen at it's home base of Bandirma, Turkey. Note the full load of AAQ-13 and AAQ-14 LANTIRN laser targeting systems. 


Bandirma, 29 April 1999.


Block 50/52

Although the Block 40/42 introduced many improvements, it also made the F-16 much heavier. Nearly 1,5 tonnes were added to the weight of the F-16A at basically the same level of engine performance. Both engine manufacturers were put to work to increase the performance of their products. This resulted in the Block 50 and Block 52. Again, the Block 50 had the GE F110, now in it's GE-129 form. The Block 52 would be powered by the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW229. First flight of a Block 50 took place in October of 1991, followed by the Block 52 a year later. Important upgrades to the radar and other avionics completed the Block 50. In case of the USAF, one of the most important changes was the addition of HTS, the HARM Targeting System. Mounted in a Pave Penny type pod fitted to the right hand "chin" station, to the right of the air intake, HTS is used to target AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missiles. Thus, F-16C Block 50's took the place of the F-4G Phantom "Wild Weasel IV".

An example of an HTS equipped F-16C Block 50 is this USAFE 91-0415/SP from Spangdahlem's 23 FS, 52 FW. The HTS pod is visible to the right of the air intake. The jet also carries an ACMI datalink pod and an ALQ-131 ECM pod. Thus well-hung, it took part in 1999's Frisian Flag exercise at Leeuwarden Air Base in the Netherlands


Leeuwarden, 29 September 1999.

Both Greece and Turkey became recipients of the Block 50. Greece even had forsaked the Block 40. These two pictures below conclude this article, which is by no means a complete overview of all the variants of this great fighter. It merely tries to give a brief pictorial history of the development of the F-16 which until now has spanned more than three decades. 

Below left, Hellenic Air Force F-16D Block 50  083 from 347 Mira, to the right Turkish Air Force F-16C Block 50 93-0683 from 192 Filo from Balikesir.

Leeuwarden, 4 July 1998.

Kleine Brogel, 19 June 2001.