General Dynamics F-111F (S/N 70-2366) of the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. This photo was taken at Langley Air Force Base, Va., in March 1976. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The versatile "swing wing" F-111, unofficially named the "Aardvark" until its retirement ceremony on July 27, 1996, when the name was made official, entered the USAF inventory in 1967. The F-111's wings are straight for takeoffs, landings or slow speed flight; by sweeping its wings rearward, it can exceed twice the speed of sound (Mach 2).
In 1960 the Department of Defense combined the USAF's requirement for a fighter-bomber with a Navy need for an air-superiority fighter, though the Navy eventually canceled its program. In all, 562 F-111s of all series were built; 96 of them were production F-111Ds, 94 were production F-111Es, and 106 were production F-111Fs.
The F-111 was a long-range, all-weather strike aircraft capable of navigating at low level to reach targets deep in enemy territory and to deliver ordnance on the target. Primarily a bomber, the F-111 featured a sweep wing varying between 16 degrees and 72.5 degrees, with side-by-side seating for a pilot and weapons systems officer.
The E model was an improved version of the F-111A and was introduced before the D model. The F-111D featured an improved Mark II avionics package, more powerful TF30-P-9 engines, and an environmental control system. The F-111F model was equipped with an all-weather AN/AVQ-26 Pave Tack infra-red targeting designator/reader carried in a pod-mounted turret. It could track and designate ground targets for targets for laser, infra-red and electro-optical bombs.
- The 11th F-111A S/N 63-9776 became the RF-111A.
- The 13th F-111A S/N 63-9778 was transferred to NASA Dryden in 1973.
- The 18th pre-production F-111A S/N 63-9783 became the FB-111A prototype.
- Four F-111Cs were converted to RF-111C for RAAF.
- One FB-111A crashed during acceptance testing and was never delivered to the USAF.
- Two US Navy F-111Bs were under construction when the program was canceled.
- Two nearly complete RAF F-111Ks were turned over to the USAF as YF-111A and completed as FB-111A S/N 67-149/150.
- RAF F-111Ks under construction (besides the first two) of the 50 ordered were completed as FB-111A.
TECHNICAL NOTES (F-111F): Armament: One 20mm M61A1 Vulcan cannon, plus a mix of up to 24 conventional or nuclear weapons Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-100 of 25,000 lbs. thrust each with afterburner Maximum speed: 1,452 mph/1,262 knots Cruising Speed: 470 mph/408 knots Service ceiling: 60,600 ft. Range: 2,971 statute miles/2,584 nautical miles Span: 32 ft. swept, 63 ft. extended Length: 73 ft. 6 in. Height: 17 ft. Weight: +100,000 lbs. maximum Crew: Two