F-16 Falcon (aka VIPER) Current as of January 23, 2022 Overview Today, the U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, U.S. Navy, and NASA operate over 1,000 Vipers, in addition to 25 coalition countries. These remarkable aircraft perform virtually every mission set there is; from experimental testing to pilot training and everything in between. The Viper’s versatility, low operating costs, and adaptability have kept it at the forefront of America’s military power. Background Since its maiden flight in 1976, the Viper has undergone nearly thirty different modernization upgrades including bigger engines, advanced avionics, precision lethal weapons, and higher fidelity sensors. At its core, the Viper is still one of the most maneuverable aircraft in the world. Its ability to accelerate, turn in a short radius (resulting in loads up to nine times the force of gravity on the aircraft and pilot), and maneuver rapidly to employ weapons is why it has earned the nickname “Viper”.