Combat aircraft are one of the important defense equipment that every country must have. Combat aircraft are useful for maintaining national defense and security from any threats that come from outside parties. One of the aircraft used was the US-made F-16.
To note, the F-16 Fighting Falcon first entered service in the United States Air Force in 1978. The F-16 is currently the world’s second oldest fighter aircraft in production and the world’s fourth most widely used fighter aircraft.
The F-16 was developed as a lighter and cheaper counterpart to the heavyweight F-15 Eagle that makes up the Air Force elite. The F-16 has for decades represented the cheapest Western fighter in the global arms market.
The F-16 is apparently divided into two, namely capable and less capable. A key factor in the difference between capable and less capable F-16s is that the US has sought to limit the capabilities of some third world air forces by massively downgrading their hardware, as well as by regulating how these aircraft can be used, and where they can be operated. .
A further factor is the length of production time for the F-16, which means the differences between the early F-16 variants and the latest F-16 Block 70/72 remain very significant, particularly in terms of avionics.
Here are the five countries operating the F-16s that are least capable of the International Military Version
1. Venezuelan Air Force
The Venezuelan Air Force is one of the last remaining carriers of the F-16A/B Fighting Falcon. The Venezuelan Air Force had been one of the first clients for the jet in the early 1980s, and deployed 18 aircraft which have undergone relatively few upgrades since then. The Venezuelan F-16A/B Fighting Falcon is not very reliable.
The Venezuelan F-16 uses obsolete AIM-9L/P and Python 4 visual-range air-to-air missiles, and does not have any out-of-visual-range capabilities for air-to-air or strike missions.
Missiles combined with aging avionics and sensors give them a negligible capability against modern combat units. Although by regional standards, the Venezuelan F-16 remains above average.
2. Indonesian Air Force
The Indonesian Air Force’s F-16s, such as those in Venezuelan service, are not beyond visual range and rely entirely on the older variant of the short-range AIM-9 Sidewinder for air-to-air combat.
These aircraft are newer than those in Venezuelan service and use AGM-65G missiles for the air-to-ground role, with their avionics much better suited for precision strikes.
Like Venezuela, Indonesia relies heavily on Russian-sourced warplanes with a range of modern missiles to compensate for the shortage of the F-16, deploying the Su-27 and Su-30 armed with active radar-guided air-to-air missiles and various cruise missiles.
Indonesia fielded 9 F-16A/B fighters equipped with 24 F-16C/D jets procured from the United States, with only the newer models capable of carrying out meaningful air-to-ground operations.
3. Egyptian Air Force
The Egyptian Air Force remains one of the largest foreign operators of the F-16, with its Falcons often cited as the worst in the world that remain true among major users.
The Egyptian Eagle relies on heavily lowered avionics, is tightly controlled by the United States in how it is used, and lacks long-range missiles viable for air-to-air combat without being at all suitable for air-to-ground or anti-shipping missions.
The effectively obsolete AIM-7P Sparrow was eclipsed by the more modern AIM-120 AMRAAM in the US Air Force before the Soviet Union collapsed more than three decades ago, but with Egypt being denied access to the AMRAAM, the older AIM-7 remains the best anti-Falcons.
Aircraft armament. The missile lacks in areas ranging from lack of fire and forgetfulness to poor electronic warfare countermeasures and extremely short range, meaning Egyptian F-16 units can provide negligible air defense capabilities.
The position of the fleet is only exacerbated by the fact that even the AIM-7 missiles are few and far between, with Egyptian F-16s being very rarely seen at longer ranges than the defensive AIM-9. The avionics and electronic warfare countermeasures of the fighters themselves are also heavily downgraded.
4. Iraqi Air Force
The current fleet of 34 F-16IQ Fighting Falcons forms the backbone of the Iraqi Air Force, with the fighters having been delivered between 2014 and 2017.
The aircraft leaves a lot to be desired in terms of performance, and is like the F-16 in Egypt. they were denied access to the AIM-120 missiles and were disabled by heavily lowered avionics.
The decision to cripple the fighters is thought to have been influenced by Israeli concerns about Iraq’s viable air warfare capabilities, with the Israeli Air Force having frequently violated Iraqi airspace.
Iraq was thus given only the minimum capabilities to ensure Lockheed Martin obtained contracts for new fighters. Although Iraqi F-16s have supported counter-insurgency efforts, they have proved less profitable than the South Korean-supplied T-50 jets in the role and have suffered from very low availability rates.
5. Turkish Air Force
After the Israeli Air Force retired part of its F-16 fleet in the late 2010s, the Turkish Air Force emerged as the largest foreign operator of the Fighting Falcon with an estimated 250 in service.
Unlike most carriers, however, the aircraft have not been extensively equipped with modern AIM-120C air-to-air missiles, let alone the more modern AIM-120D, which makes their capabilities very limited with electronic warfare countermeasures since the 1990s and very limited range around 70km.
Even Turkey’s F-16s which have been armed with a small number of AIM-120C missiles are seen carrying them with the older AIM-120Bs signaling a shortage of available numbers. Turkey has been denied access to more advanced F-16 variants compatible with more modern missile classes, sales of upgrade packages for its fleet have met with considerable opposition in Washington.