Episode 167 — F-16 at 50: The Origins of the Viper

In Episode 167 of the Aerospace Advantage, F-16 at 50: The Origins of the Viper, Mitchell Institute’s John “Slick” Baum hosts a special set of guests to mark the 50th anniversary of the F-16’s first flight. It’s one of the most impactful, widely used combat aircraft in airpower history. Developed in the early 1970s and first flown in 1974, the F-16 began as a relatively basic fighter. Numerous upgrades saw it evolve into an incredibly capable multi-role combat aircraft with powerful sensors, computing capacity, connectivity, a broad array of munitions, and far more thrust. This episode will discuss the origins of the F-16—how and why the requirements were developed, flight test, and early operational experiences.

We’ve got General Mike Loh, who was a young officer just back from flying combat in Vietnam assigned to work with the “father of the F-16”, Col John Boyd, in the Fighter Requirements Directorate in the Pentagon. He later circled back to the program as the project manager for the YF-16 and F-16 at Aeronautical Systems Division. He’s joined by Major General Charlie Lyon, who began his career in the F-16 in the early 1980s, when the jet was brand new and far more basic than anything flying today. He was a FWS Graduate and 422 TES IP and later a Squadron, Group, and Wing Commander. Finally, we’ve got Maj Gen Larry Stutzriem, who transitioned from the F-4 to the F-16 in the mid-1980s. This history really matters and that’s why we’re so excited to share it with you.


Host: John “Slick” Baum, Senior Fellow, The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

Producer: Shane Thin

Executive Producer: Douglas Birkey

Guest: Maj Gen Larry Stutzriem, Director of Research, The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

Guest: Gen John Michael Loh, USAF (Ret.)

Guest: Maj Gen Charles Lyon, USAF (Ret.)

Read transcript (AI-assisted)

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