The F-16 Fighting Falcon has a take-off weight of just 20,000 pounds, less than half the weight of the F-15. But as aerial opponents soon discover, lighter doesn't mean lesser.
It's fast, it's acrobatic, and it's built to get in your face before you even know it's there. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is the lightest fighter in the Air Force inventory, and ushered in a new breed of dogfighter. Witness its origins during the Vietnam War, as the U.S. military raced to create a fighter that could hold its own against the Russian's MiG. Then see how it evolved over the decades, adapted in order to stay relevant, and continued to soar to become the undisputed king of the multirole fighters.
Watch this episode online now.
Stream hundreds of shows by starting your free trial to Smithsonian Channel Plus.
Access even more free Smithsonian Channel full episodes and documentaries online through participating TV providers.
Find out if your television provider carries Smithsonian Channel.
Don't panic! It's simple to upgrade to the latest version of one of these browsers:
Don't panic! To get the best possible experience on smithsonianchannel.com we recommend you upgrade your operating system.
For the best possible site experience, please use Chrome for Android.
Add username "SmithsonianChan" on Snapchat for fun and fascinating facts. We'll be sharing spontaneous photos and videos as inspiration strikes.