The F-16 Fighting Falcon was produced by General Dynamics who became Lockheed who then merged with Martin Marietta to become Lockheed Martin. The F-16 entered service in January 1979 as a multi-role jet fighter that evolved into an all-weather multi-role aircraft capable of sustaining 9-g turns. The F-16 is relatively inexpensive to purchase and maintain so the U.S. and 25 other countries added it to their inventory. The Fighting Falcon is referred to by its pilots as the “Viper” and will remain in USAF service until 2025.
On May 2, 2014 the first Iraqi F-16IQD (F-16D) serial #601 completed its maiden flight. Several F-16s have been sent to Tucson Arizona where the U.S. ANG 162nd Wing will train Iraqi pilots before any deliveries to Iraq air bases. These F-16s will be assigned to the 9th FS “Black Panthers” based at Balad AB but during the initial delivery phase the base was unsecured from rebels. Iraq will receive 36 aircraft, twenty four F-16IQ and twelve F-16Ds. F-16IQC 1615 was chosen to wear the 9th FS emblem painted on its tail.