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F-111 Aardvark General Dynamics
F-111 Aardvark
Medium Tactical/ Strategic Bomber

DESCRIPTION:
Ordered in 1960, the F-111 was originally a joint program to develop a deep-strike fighter bomber for the Air Force and a long-range interceptor for the Navy. While the Air Force ultimately received several variants of its bomber, the Navy's F-111B was eventually cancelled because it was too heavy for carrier use. The F-111 introduced many innovations, including swing-wings and a completely enclosed detachable ejection module for the two crewmen. Nevertheless, the original F-111A suffered many difficulties with its engine inlets, excessive weight, severe drag, and structural failure. Even the first operational use of the F-111 in Vietnam was a disaster when the aircraft suffered heavy losses.

It was not until the introduction of the F-111F with better avionics, more powerful engines, terrain-following radar, and armed with laser-guided bombs that the F-111 finally emerged as a superb long-range strike aircraft. It was these aircraft that led the controversial strike on Libya in 1986. The final version of the Aardvark was the EF-111 electronic warfare aircraft used to disable enemy radar.

About 540 F-111s were built for the air forces of the US and Australia. The last of the strike models were retired from US service in the early 1990s, and the EF-111 fleet followed suit by 1998. Although there are rumors that the Air Force secretly developed and fielded a stealth tactical bomber similar in appearance to the Northrop YF-23 as a replacement for the F-111, it is more likely that the F-15E Eagle has assumed its duties.

Australia continues to operate a small fleet of F-111Cs that will likely remain in service until about 2010. It is envisioned that these aircraft will ultimately be replaced by the F-35.

Data below for F-111F
Last modified 17 March 2012

HISTORY:
First Flight 21 December 1964
Service Entry

June 1967

CREW: two: pilot, weapon systems officer

ESTIMATED COST:

unknown

AIRFOIL SECTIONS:
Wing Root NACA 64210.68
Wing Tip

NACA 64209.80

DIMENSIONS:
Length 73.50 ft (22.40 m)
Wingspan unswept: 63.00 ft (19.20 m)
swept: 31.96 ft (9.74 m)
Height 17.12 ft (5.22 m)
Wing Area 525 ft (48.79 m)
Canard Area

not applicable

WEIGHTS:
Empty 47,481 lb (21,537 kg)
Normal Takeoff unknown
Max Takeoff 100,000 lb (45,360 kg)
Fuel Capacity internal: unknown
external: unknown
Max Payload

31,500 lb (14,228 kg)

PROPULSION:
Powerplant two Pratt & Whitney TF30-100/111/111+ afterburning turbofans
Thrust 50,200 lb (223.3 kN) with afterburner

PERFORMANCE:
Max Level Speed at altitude: 1,650 mph (2,655 km/h) at 36,090 ft (11,000 m), Mach 2.5
at sea level: 915 mph (1,475 km/h), Mach 1.2
Initial Climb Rate (EF-111) 3,592 ft (1,094 m) / min
Service Ceiling 54,700 ft (16,670 m)
Range 2,545 nm (4,707 km) with max internal fuel
g-Limits unknown

ARMAMENT:
Gun one M61A1 Vulcan 20-mm cannon (2,084 rds) in the weapon bay in place of other ordnance (seldom carried)
Stations one internal weapons bay and eight external hardpoints
Air-to-Air Missile AIM-9 Sidewinder
Air-to-Surface Missile AGM-69 SRAM (FB-111A only)
Bomb GBU-10/12/24 Paveway laser-guided, GBU-15/28 EO-guided, B43/61 nuclear, Mk 82/83/84 GP, Mk 20 Rockeye, BLU-107 Durandal
Other ECM pods

KNOWN VARIANTS:
F-111A First production model for USAF; 158 built (18 of them test aircraft only)
EF-111A Electronic warfare platform rebuilt from F-111A models; 42 converted
FB-111A Strategic bomber capable of carrying 41,250 lb (18,711 kg) bomb load, featured increased wingspan, greater fuel capacity, upgraded engines, and strengthened landing gear; 76 built, an improved FB model was abandoned in favor of the B-1B
RF-111A F-111A airframes tested as reconnaissance aircraft with a removable sensor pallet; no production models built
YF-111A USAF research aircraft converted from Royal Air Force F-111K models that had been cancelled; 2 built
F-111B Navy carrier-borne fighter, cancelled in favor of the F-14; 7 built
F-111C Australian RAAF strike model, similar to the FB-111A; 24 built
RF-111C Australian reconnaissance model converted from F-111C and fitted with a removable reconnaissance package similar to that of the RF-111A
F-111D New-build model with an improved radar, new engine, and enhanced avionics and navigation equipment, but was difficult to maintain; 96 built
F-111E Strike model with an enlarged engine intake and improved engines; 96 built
F-111F Final strike variant with improved engines, updated avionics, and able to carry laser-guided bombs; 106 built
F-111G Re-designation for FB-111A models transferred from strategic to tactical strike missions
FB-111H Proposal for a new bomber with improved engines, upfated avionics, and increased weapons load; not built
F-111K Model ordered by the UK Royal Air Force but cancelled; 50 were to be built

KNOWN COMBAT RECORD: Vietnam War (USAF, 1968-1972)
Libya - Operation El Dorado Canyon (USAF, 1986)
Iraq - Operation Desert Storm (USAF, 1991)
Bosnia - Operation Deliberate Force (USAF, 1995 [EF-111 only])

KNOWN OPERATORS: Australia (Royal Australian Air Force)
United States (US Air Force)

3-VIEW SCHEMATIC:

F-111 Aardvark


SOURCES:
  • Bishop, Chris, ed. The Encyclopedia of Modern Military Weapons: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Weapon Systems from 1945 to the Present Day. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1999, p. 270, General Dynamics F-111.
  • Bonds, Ray, ed. The Modern US War Machine: An Encyclopedia of American Military Equipment and Strategy. NY: Military Press, 1987, p. 181-182, General Dynamics F-111.
  • Donald, David, ed. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1997, p. 453, General Dynamics F-111.
  • Donald, David and Lake, Jon, ed. The Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 2000, p. 176-179, General Dynamics F-111A/D/E/G, R/F-111C and FB-111A, F-111F.
  • f-111.net
  • Gunston, Bill, ed. The Encyclopedia of Modern Warplanes. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1995, p. 125, General Dynamics F-111.
  • Gunston, Bill and Spick, Mike. Modern Air Combat: The Aircraft, Tactics and Weapons Employed in Aerial Combat Today. NY: Crescent Books, 1983, p. 108-109, General Dynamics F-111.
  • Laur, Timothy M. and Llanso, Steven L. Encyclopedia of Modern U.S. Military Weapons. NY: Berkley Books, 1995, p. 15-19, F-111/FB-111.
  • Munro, Bob and Chant, Christopher. Jane's Combat Aircraft. Glasgow: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995, p. 120-121, General Dynamics F-111.
  • Paul Nann's Military Aviation Photo Gallery
  • Taylor, Michael. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1996/1997. London: Brassey's, 1996, p. 135-136, Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics) F-111.
  • Taylor, Michael J. H. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1999/2000. London: Brassey's, 1999, p. 122, Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics) F-111 Aardvark.





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