As my previous two Valour-IT entries have generated a fair amount of controversy in the comments sections, why not go for the trifecta with an F-16XL photo gallery:

An air-to-air left side view of the prototype F-16XL Fighting Falcon aircraft with AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles attached to its wings. Date Shot: 1 Nov 1982

Only a few days left in the Project Valour-IT fund raising drive. MO is a member of Team USAF:

And yes, I said “gallery”. More pics below:




F-16XL and SR-71

Images from DoD and NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center.

No one probably has any opinions on the F-16XL, do they?

While arguing, don’t forget to toss a couple of bucks toward Team USAF’s Project Valour-IT effort.


  1. Absolutely gorgeous plane, Murdoc. One of my personal favourites. I’m sad that it lost to the F-15. NASA is actually trying to get one of the 2 F-16XL’s flightworthy again. Let’s hope and pray this beautiful bird can get out and fly in the wild blue again.

  2. As you said, it is a great looking plane but so greatly underpowered… The F-15E was the rightful winner in that competition. Bring back the Cranked Arrow!! She is a sexy girl….even better looking in that NASA black paint!!

  3. Bfalcon: I saw the story somewhere about the possibility of reactivating one of the planes and meant to include a link. Will do so tomorrow if I get a chance.

  4. I know that #2 ended the NASA flight tests around 1996/7 and that #1 flew for a while after that…anyone know when they finally put #1 to rest? It was around 2000 IIRC

  5. The F-15E was the better plane, no doubt, but the F-16XL was cheaper. We recall now that the F-15E production was shut down early by then Def Sec Dick Cheney because of its high cost. Likely we could have got in a few extra of the cheaper Strike Falcons, which could load the very same PGMs the costlier Strike Eagle carries.

  6. I’m sure it wasn’t worth a damn because it didn’t ever have a spot for a flight engineer… Oh wait, that’s only a problem if you’ve got an established flight engineer bureaucracy. Never mind. Well then, at least it must have proven that the cranked areo wing was not feasible or some nutty thing like that. Speaking of F-15s and F-16s, have you seen the news about the F-15s being grounded? Perhaps the 25 year development cycle of the F-22 was a tad bit excessive?

    If the Missouri crash was the result of metal fatigue, however, it could lead to a much more extended grounding, since it would suggest that time and intense use of the aircraft since the Sept. 11 attacks have finally caught up with the aging fighter. ‘The whole fleet was already flying on flight restrictions due to metal fatigue,’ said Thompson, noting that a fleetwide grounding is extremely rare, especially for a fighter. ‘In this case, the planes that are grounded are supposed to be America’s top-of-the-line air-superiority plane,’ Thompson added. ‘This is not like grounding some cargo plane. These are the sinews of our global air dominance.’ Despite fears over the plane’s safety, it remained unclear whether all F-15s were on the ground or would stay there. Lt. Col. Edward W. Thomas Jr., an Air Force spokesman, said that over North America, counter-terrorism missions were being taken over by the single-engine F-16 fighter, but that some F-15s would be on standby during the transition period. – LA Times

    By the way, notice the nice little shot about this not being like ‘grounding some cargo plane’. What a brown nosing dumbass! Unfortunately the brown nosing dumbass is echoing a very common attitude in the USAF today. If it’s not a fighter it’s not worth spit.

  7. Dfens, You sir are a true idiot. Your ‘Hell, I’ve been in the aerospace business for 25 years. I know a damn sight more than you do ‘makes you a proud man to resort to personal attacks? The simple fact is, you have not answered a single question about the flaws that the J has. You have not answered my questions about what countries all those built and unused Herks went to. How much were they sold for and how were they configured when built? The fact is, there were no ‘extra’ herks at the end of the line…none that Lockmart had to pander off…If I am wrong, give me tail numbers and countries.

  8. Funny how you demand proof that there were 15 to 20 unsold H’s at the end of that production line and yet offer no proof yourself of any of your alleged flaws. In fact, every credible report I have read or heard has been glowing regarding the performance of the J model. Why should I add further credibility to your Dan Rather style attack? Of course, I’m not going to pretend that the C-130J is the perfect airplane, but frankly your alleged ‘flaws’ don’t even make sense within the context of your own rantings. Clearly you’ve never had any direct experience with the airplane and are echoing the flight engineer bureaucratic party line with regard to this airplane. Boeing’s AMP program people seem to like to hop on the internet and trash the C-130J too for obvious reasons, so the two groups seem to have created a self-reinforcing criticism network that ignores so many obvious and available facts that your rantings are not worth any more of my time.

  9. What I would like to know is why NASA wants to reactivate the bird to block 40 status. In context, it does not make that much sense to me. My personal guess, is that there is a cranked arrow UAV coming down the pike.

  10. Dfens, You can attack me all you want but you have not answered a single one of my basic questions. I have said several times that the J model is a wonderful aircraft for everything except for Tac and AFSOC style missions…she is just not durable enough, sometimes the down and dirty basic models perform better in harsh environments… Also, about your articals..you can’t be serious…the person writing that crap got all their info from Wiki(crappi)pedia… It can not land/TO on a shorter dirt strip than an E/H…so why even say that… it is restricted to 3000′ just like the rest of them. This guy is so full of shit…first of all…the J does not have larger internal dimensions as stated—- ‘It can accommodate heavier loads with larger dimensions, such as helicopters and combat vehicles, while still taking off in shorter distances than the older planes’—- And if they are comparing the J-30 to a regular 130 then that is stupid…the weights of the C-130 are not limited by the engine power…it is limited by the ramp and door design and the max weight in the C-130 reflect that…the J is the same weight. C-130H3/J and C-130H-30/J-30 have the same weights. Max take off weights for ALL are 155,000lbs and war time wavered is 175,000lbs The max zero fuel weight for the J is 1792 lbs less than a standard H model. The J model is more fuel efficient. Max cruise speed is a tad faster, (12 kts…whoa), and can fly a smidge higher 26,500 vs. 28,000 of the J Take off distance over a 50ft obstacle for both the H and J is the same at 4,700ft The only real ass kicking over the H is in the rate of climb…1,900 fpm vs. the J’s 2,100 fpm. You keep hounding that I am a bitter Fe…well the fact of the matter is, I am no longer an FE (per the flight docs not the fact the Js took me out) I am not bitter at all… I think that on the Tactical missions/Gunship/Talon and the likes there are no replacing the older H (Super H) models. and That is why AFSOC has not and has no plans to do it. Do I think I could have made the calculations better than a computer? Yes in some cases but for most not…the computer will do just fine. I had the ability to give sound advice to the Aircraft Commander and in a hand full of situations we could have lost the plane and our lives without the years of aircraft knowledge under my belt. The J model had a bad habit of not liking a yaw in the plane…so if you loose an engine on Take off, and you are in a no shit unbalanced take off roll and you need 3 engines–the J will kill your ass…If you loose an engine, to keep the tail and nose straight she will retard power to the apposing engine. This is fully safe in all but a very few situations…but it is those situations that the C-130 is meant to fly in. Also, look at the Brits J they had to destroy in Iraq (ZH876 c/n 5460)…It has come out that it was faulty wiring. That is a costly mistake isn’t it? How much did the Brits pay for her? Around $87 Million? Will LockMart fix it? Again, I do not know where you get your info…but you have none and you have yet to answer a single one of my questions…the only thing you do is take pop shots at me because I happened to be an FE. I do not think for about 85% of the missions you would NEED an FE…the computer does a great job at engine and fuel management. What does scare me however is the fact that they took the Nav off. Even the KC-135s have retained the Nav for some missions and they have to do far less in the tactical environment. When the times slip on an airdrop/troop drop and you need to re program the computers, who is going to do it? One of the pilots? (Is this why the C-17 flies with four pilots during a no shit tac mission?….that’s cost effective!) Now you have only 3 people looking out of the airplane….safe going from Atlanta to Boston but not going from FOB Q-West to FOB Manhattan. You mentioned the IR deterrents… Find me an aircrew that trusts it even 80% and I will PayPal you $20…does it help? Yes, but we didn’t trust them (Think AFSOC will get rid if their observers?…think again) I am all for the C-130AMP …FE or no FE position Now back to the F-16XL