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The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is currently the most numerous combat aircraft in NATO. Originally developed for the USAF as a day fighter, the F-16 has evolved into a highly capable multi-role combat aircraft that despite flying for the first time in 1974 is still in production. Over 4,500 F-16s have been produced over the past 49 years and 3,000 of them are still in service with 25 nations around the world. The most recent version is called the Block 70/72 and includes a new cockpit, computers, an advanced AESA radar based on the one installed in the F-35.
F-16C is the backbone of the US Air Force and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future whilst they are slowly replaced by the F-35A. The USAF operates over 1,000 F-16s and they are flown by all of the commands within the Air Force including the USAF in Europe and Africa. There are three USAF F-16 squadrons based in Europe, the 510th and 555th Fighter Squadrons with the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano AB in Italy plus the 480th Fighter Squadron with the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem AB in Germany.
The 480th Fighter Squadron have confirmed that they will be sending at least one F-16CM or F-16DM for static display at this year's Air Tattoo. Photo Credit: Paul Fiddian