In February of 1980, General Dynamics made a proposal for a Fighting Falcon version with a radically-modified wing shape, which was originally proposed for use on supersonic airliners. The project was known as SCAMP (Supersonic Cruise and Maneuvering Program) and later as F-16XL. The delta wing was to be of a cranked-arrow shape, with a total surface of 633 sq. ft. (more than double the area of the standard F-16 wing). The research objectives included exploring innovative wing planform and camber shapes to provide efficient supersonic cruise performance while providing fighter-like transonic and supersonic turn agility. The design was intended to offer low drag at high subsonic or supersonic speeds without compromising low-speed manouvrability.

In March of 1981, the USAF announced that it would be developing a new advanced tactical fighter. General Dynamics entered the F-16XL in the competition, the McDonnell Douglas company submitting an adaptation of the two-seat F-15B Eagle. Because of its increased internal fuel capacity and payload, the F-16XL could carry twice the payload of the F-16 40% further. The increased payload was carried on 27 hardpoints, which were arranged as follows:

16 wing weapons stations (750 lb capacity)
4 semi-submerged AIM-120 stations
2 wingtip stations
1 centerline station
2 wing "heavy / wet" stations
2 chin stations for LANTIRN

F-16XL carrying a full complement of weapons: 2 AIM-9 Sidewinders on the wingtip stations, two underwing 370 gal fuel tanks, 10 Mk.82 (500lbs) General Purpose bombs on underwing stations, 2 Mk.82s on the centerline, and 4 semi-recessed AIM-120 Amraams. Note the aircraft is carrying the maximum amount of underwing stores with fuel-tanks fitted. (Erwin Boone Collection)
However, on each wing, the "heavy / wet" station was at the same Buttline (distance from the center of the Fuselage) as two of the wing weapon stations. This means that you could use either the one " heavy / wet" or two weapon stations but not both at the same time. Furthermore, if the "heavy / wet" station was used for an external fuel, the tank physically blocked one more wing station This meant that with external fuel tanks, the maximum number of weapons on the wings was 10. Two weapons could also be carried on a centerline adaptor. If no underwing fuel tanks wer used, the maximum number of 500 lb class weapons was increased to 16. Although the XL could carry the centerline 300 tank, it was not really an operational loadout since mission range would actually be decreased unless the CL-300 could be dropped when empty.

In February of 1984, the Air Force announced that it had selected the McDonnell Douglas design in preference to the proposed production versions of F-16XL. The McDonnell Douglas proposal was later to enter production as the F-15E Strike Eagle. Had the F-16XL won the competition, production aircraft would have been designated F-16E (single-seat) and F-16F (two-seat). John G. Williams, lead engineer on the XL: "The XL is a marvelous airplane, but was a victim of the USAF wanting to continue to produce the F-15, which is understandable. Sometimes you win these political games, sometimes not. In most ways, the XL was superior to the -15 as a ground attack airplane, but the -15 was good enough."

Following the loss of the contract to MDD, General Dynamics returned both F-16XLs to Fort Worth during the summer of 1985 and placed them in storage. They had made 437 and 361 flights respectively, and although supersonic cruise without afterburner had been an original goal of the F-16XL program, the aircraft did never quite achieve this feat.

General characteristics:
Crew: 2
Length: 54 ft 2 in (16.51 m)
Wingspan: 34 ft 3 in (10.44 m)
Height: 17 ft 7 in (5.36 m)
Wing area: 633 ft2 (58.81 m2)
Empty weight: 22,000 lb (9,980 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 48,000 lb (21,775 kg)
Powerplant: 1× General Electric F110-GE-129 turbofan
Dry thrust: 17,155 lbf (76.3 kN)
Thrust with afterburner: 28,984 lbf (128.9 kN)
Maximum speed: Mach 2.0
Range: 2,480 nm (2,850 mi, 4,590 km)
Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,240 m)
Rate of climb: 62,000 ft/min (315 m/s)

First F-16XL with full carry of 454kg Mk83 bombs

F-16XL and F-16/79(down)

First F-16 P&W F100 and 120% enlarget wing

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