If you are a fan of military aviation you (almost) certainly have heard that the Slovak government has approved (back in 2018) the purchase of American fighters F-16 Block 70/72 for €1.6 billion. The order includes 14 aircraft, aviation equipment, logistic support and the training of aviation and ground staff. Slovakia will buy 12 single-seat and a pair of two-seat jets for training purposes. New aircraft will replace the obsolete MiG-29s still in service with the Slovak air forces. Lockheed Martin, the producer of the aircraft, will deliver the first four fighter jets by 2022, remaining 14 will be delivered in 2023. 

Read a few facts on F-16, which officially bears the “surname” Fighting Falcon, however nickname Viper is commonly used by its pilots and crews, due to a resemblance to a viper snake. The design of the F-16 is based on the work of a controversial group of U.S. Air Force officers and civilian defense analysts known as the fighter mafia. The group advocated that a new fighter should be lighter and show a higher degree of maneuverability than aircraft constructed according to the "higher, faster, and farther" principle.  However, the resulting design of the plane was something of a mix of innovative and traditional thinking. The prototype of the F-16 took off for the first time on February 2, 1974 – some 48 years ago! The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force (USAF). Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft, which is still manufactured by Lockheed Martin. The plane is gradually modernized in steps called blocks. With some 2,280 aircraft in active duty (as of 2019) the F-16 Fighting Falcon accounts for around 15 percent of the global fighter jet fleet.

The Slovak F-16s will be based at the Sliač airport and we hope that sooner or later one of our “sixteens” will land at our airport. It would be the first Slovak F-16 landing at Košice airport, but – it may surprise you – not the first time a Fighting Falcon has landed here. Picture shows an F-16 of the Royal Netherlands Air Force parked at our airport during the Air Fest in September 1996. 


Text a photo  R. Mlýnek

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