A U.S. F-16 of the Vermont Air
National Guard (VANG) set a record on March 24th, when it became the first
F-16C to spend 7,000 hours in the air. The F-16C was originally designed for a
service life of 4,000 hours in the air. But advances in engineering, materials
and maintenance techniques have extended that to over 8,000 hours. The National
Guard maintainers tend to be older and more experienced, and are noted for
their innovative and diligent methods of keeping old aircraft flying.
aircraft, nicknamed "Lucky Lady", has had the same pilot for the last ten
years, and has been to Iraq three times, where it flew 1,100 combat hours.
Lucky Lady won't see 8,000 hours, as it is headed for retirement, after more
than two decades of service. The VANG is getting some more recent F-16s as
replacements. The 19 ton F-16 entered
service 30 years ago, and over 4,200 have been produced, for use in 25 different
countries. The aircraft is still in production, and is to be replaced in U.S.
service by the F-35.