Viper F-16 (Modern Military Aircraft 5009)
By Lou Drendel
Publisher: Squadron/Signal Publications 1992 64 Pages
PDF 76 MB
VIPER! Viper? Trust the people who fly them to pick names that will stick with airplanes. "Viper" is the nickname picked by the pilots for the F-16. Its origins go back almost to the drawing board, as does official opposition to the fighters nam de guerre. When the name was first advanced within General Dynamics, someone reminded someone else that Viper was also the name of a British jet engine. The Air Force hierarchy was into naming their airplanes after birds of prey just then (F-15 Eagle), and a snake seemed like a come-down...it just didn't have that soaring quality. So was born the official name — Fighting Falcon. It sounds majestic, but just didn't fit into the lexicon of most self-respecting fighter pilots. "Fighting Falcon?" No. that just couldn't be said fast enough, either on the radio or at the bar! "Electric Jet" was a sometimes-used trendy name for the F-16. but since all modern airplanes are fly by wire, it has lost its unique quality. Every fighter pilot, in all U.S. services, refers to his airplane as a "jet" or "the jet," in a kind of studied understatement. But fighter pilots are some of the last great individualists and where individuality is important the right nickname (or call sign) is of paramount importance. For the F-16. "Viper" seemed just perfect. It is quick and deadly, air-to-air or air-to-ground. But in spite of its popularity with pilots, the name "Viper" remains very much a backroom nickname, rarely, if ever, seen in print..before now.