Episode 168 — F-16 at 50: The Viper Goes to War

In Episode 168 of the Aerospace Advantage, F-16 at 50: The Viper Goes to War, Mitchell Institute’s John “Slick” Baum hosts a special set of guests to mark the 50th anniversary of the F-16’s first flight. The Viper came of age in the 1980s, and its capability growth rapidly accelerated in the 1990s and 2000s. The aircraft is still in production, empowered with an array of cutting-edge systems few could have envisioned when the first aircraft flew in 1974. ​​​In this episode, we talk about what it was like to take the F-16 to war in numerous conflicts, grow capabilities, and how the Air Force continues to steward this aircraft. We also explore what’s next as Viper drivers transition to the F-35.

Guests include Lt Gen Bruce “Orville” Wright, USAF (Ret.)—a Fighter Weapons School Graduate, F-4 and F-16 pilot with 3,200 hours of flight time and 65 combat missions in the F-16, most notably as the 614th Sq/CC during Desert Storm. He continued to fly the Viper throughout his career, including as the 5th Air Force commander. We also hear from Heather “Lucky” Penney, who flew 2 combat tours in the F-16, but most notably found herself scrambled on the morning of September 11th, 2001 to defend the national capital region. Lt Col Maxwell “Efes” Cover shares how he cut his teeth as a young fighter pilot in the F-16, and he’s now an F-35 pilot. Last but not least, Slick talks about his time flying the Viper in combat and serving as a Weapons School Instructor and Thunderbird.


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

Producer: Shane Thin

Executive Producer: Douglas Birkey

Guest: Lt Gen Bruce “Orville” Wright, USAF (Ret.), President, Air & Space Forces Association

Guest: Heather “Lucky” Penney, Senior Fellow, The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

Guest: Maxwell “Efes” Cover, Air Force Fellow, The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

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