F-16 Fighting Falcon operational history

In Operation Desert Storm of 1991, 249 USAF F-16s flew 13,340 sorties in strikes against Iraq, the most of any Coalition aircraft. Falcons often had AGM-65s (up to six), or two Mk84 2,000 lb bombs (middle underwing pylons), two 1,400 lt fuel tanks, two AIM-9 and an underbelly ECM pod, such as the AN/ALQ-131. F-16Ds from the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Hill AFB were used as spotter aircraft to search and find Iraqi SAMs and Republican Guard troops. They were armed with up to six Mk82s, Cluster Bombs, and LGBs. These aircraft were also equipped with LANTIRN and binoculars.[citation needed] Three aircraft were lost to confirmed enemy action: two to enemy radar guided SA-6 and SA-3 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs)and one to a shoulder-launched SA-16 missile. Other F-16s were damaged in accidents and by hostile ground fire but were able to return to base and be repaired.[6][7] In all, seven F-16 were lost during Desert Storm combat operations between January 16 and February 28.

F-16s formed the basis of the largest strike package (72 aircraft) flown during the war – "Package Q", a daylight raid against targets in downtown Baghdad on 19 January. It was during the "Package Q" mission that two F-16s, from 614th TFS 'Lucky Devils', part of the 401st TFW (P), flying from Doha, Qatar were lost to SAMs with their pilots (Capt Mike "Cujo" Roberts and Maj 'Tico' Tice downed, respectively, by a SA-2 and SA-3) becoming POWs.[11] This mission also marked the largest single operational F-16 strike package flown to date.

F-16s were used also as Wild Weasel shooters, with AGM-88 HARM missiles, together with older F-4Gs (480th TFS, 52nd Wing).[13] There were only 13 F-16s with HARMs, all based at Incirlik Air Base, together with 12 F-4Gs. Phantoms had the powerful AN/APR-47 and with these systems, they did the more difficult tasks (attacking the mobile radar sites); F-16s were only recently fitted with HARMs, and the bulk of USAF SEAD was still the F-4G (another 48 were at Sheik Isa, Bahrain). F-16s flew escort/Wild Weasel missions escorting them and striking pre-planned targets. The 138th Fighter Squadron (174th TFW, New York ANG) used 24 F/A-16s equipped with a 30 mm gunpod, the GPU-5/A 'Pave Claw', a four-barreled derivative of theA-10 Thunderbolt's GAU-8 Avenger, but this proved a failure owing to excess vibration and inadequate gunsights.