The F-111 was a long-range, all-weather strike aircraft capable of navigating at low level to destroy targets deep in enemy territory. The versatile F-111 Aardvark entered the U.S. Air Force inventory in 1967,and the fighter version was retired in 1996 (the electronic warfare EF-111A served until 1998). The aircraft was originally conceived in 1960 to combine the USAF requirement for a fighter-bomber with Navy's need for an air-superiority fighter, though the Navy eventually cancelled its program.
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 F-111's wings are straight for take-offs, landings or slow speed flight; by sweeping its wings rearward, it could exceed twice the speed of sound (Mach 2). The F-111F was equipped with an all-weather AN/AVQ-26 Pave Tack infra-red targeting designator/reader carried in a pod-mounted turret under the fuselage. It could track and designate ground targets for targets for laser, infra-red and electro-optical bombs. The F-111F was one of the most effective Allied aircraft in Operation Desert Storm (1991), flying more than 2,400 sorties against Iraqi strategic sites, vehicle formations and hardened bunkers.
In all, 566 F-111s of all series were built; 106 of them were production F-111Fs. The F-111F on display arrived at the museum in May 1996.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: One 20mm M61A1 Vulcan cannon (later replaced by AN/AVQ-26 Pave Tack infra-red targeting pod), plus a mix of up to 24 conventional or nuclear weapons Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-111s of 25,100 lbs. thrust each with afterburner Maximum speed: 1,452 mph Range: 2,971 miles Span: 32 ft. swept, 63 ft. extended Length: 73 ft. 6 in. Height: 17 ft. Weight: 100,000+ lbs. maximum