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. Over 4,600 aircraft have been built since production was approved in 1976. Although no longer being purchased by the U.S. Air Force, improved versions are being built for export customers. In 1993, General Dynamics sold its aircraft manufacturing business to the Lockheed Corporation, which in turn became part of Lockheed Martin after a 1995 merger with Martin Marietta.
The Fighting Falcon's key features include a frameless bubble canopy for good visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while maneuvering, an ejection seat reclined 30 degrees from vertical to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot, and the first use of a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire flight control system that helps to make it an agile aircraft. The F-16 has an internal M61 Vulcan cannon and 11 locations for mounting weapons and other mission equipment. The F-16's official name is "Fighting Falcon", but "Viper" is commonly used by its pilots and crews, because of a perceived resemblance to a viper snake as well as to the fictional Colonial Viper starfighter from the television program Battlestar Galactica which aired at the time the F-16 entered service.
In addition to active duty in the U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, and Air National Guard units, the aircraft is also used by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team, and as an adversary/aggressor aircraft by the United States Navy. The F-16 has also been procured to serve in the air forces of 25 other nations. As of 2015, it was the world's most numerous fixed-wing aircraft in military service.
The 425th Fighter Squadron is part of the 56th Operations Group at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. It operates the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducting advanced fighter training for Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 pilots.
The unit was originally formed as the 425th Night Fighter Squadron in 1943. After training in the United States, it was deployed to Ninth Air Force in England in the spring of 1944, prior to the D-Day landings in France. During the run-up to D-Day, the squadron trained with Royal Air Force night fighter units against Luftwaffe raiders who intruded the night skies over England. After the landings in France, the mission of the squadron became the air defense of Allied liberated territory. During the Battle of the Bulge, it also flew day and night interdiction missions against enemy troop movements, bridges and other targets of opportunity. It was inactivated in 1947.
The squadron was re-activated in 1969 as a Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter training squadron for Republic of Vietnam Air Force pilots for transition training. After the end of United States involvement in the Vietnam War, it continued performed training of pilots from friendly nations who purchased the Northrop F-5E Tiger II as part of the United States Foreign Military Sales program. It was inactivated in 1989 when sales of the F-5 were ended