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

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

First Flight 21 December 1964
Service Entry

June 1967

CREW: two: pilot, weapon systems officer



Wing Root NACA 64210.68
Wing Tip

NACA 64209.80

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

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)

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

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

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

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)


F-111 Aardvark

  • 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.
  • 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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